Barnsley: Danny Cowley plays down speculation linking him with vacant Reds job

Lincoln chief Danny Cowley
Lincoln chief Danny Cowley
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Danny Cowley, the highly-rated Lincoln City boss, has played down speculation linking him with Barnsley.

Cowley emerged as one of the early favourites to succeed Paul Heckingbottom following his departure to Yorkshire rivals Leeds earlier this week, just days after penning a new long-term deal at Oakwell.

But the Lincoln chief, who has guided the League Two Imps to the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley this season after a semi-final spot-kick victory over Chelsea U23s on Tuesday night, told the Lincolnshire Echo: “I am always focused on the here and now. To be fair I don’t have time to focus on anything else.

“I don’t want to cut corners so my focus is on Lincoln City. “It is nice to be mentioned for others as that means your team is doing well, which means I am doing well. “I will take it as a compliment but Nicky [his brother and assistant manager] and I are fully committed to Lincoln City and we always like to finish what we start.”

Simon Grayson, former Chesterfield chief Gary Caldwell and recently departed Bradford boss Stuart McCall are all available to succeed Heckingbottom, who took the Reds into the Championship via the League One play-offs and also won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy during his time at Oakwell.

Heckingbottom also took assistant coach Jamie Clapham with him to Elland Road, as well as head of science Nathan Wilder and first team performance analyst Alex Bailey.

Under-23s coach Paul Harsley will be in the dug out on Saturday as the Reds face Sheffield Wednesday at Oakwell.

“I can’t wait to get started,” said Heckingbottom ahead of his first game in charge, against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

“It is a big opportunity, a big football club and something you work hard for. I am planning to make the most of it.

“There are some really big fixtures coming up, which are going to define the season.”

Barnsley, taken over just before Christmas by a consortium headed by Chinese billionaire Chien Lee, sit one place above the Championship drop zone after just one victory in their last 15 league games.

Heckingbottom’s exit was confirmed on the second anniversary of him succeeding Lee Johnson, initially on a temporary basis before he earned the job permanently.