Wilder, Cooper and Ainsworth ‘in frame’ for Reds

Chris Wilder could be in line for a return to South Yorkshire with Barnsley
Chris Wilder could be in line for a return to South Yorkshire with Barnsley
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Barnsley’s search for a new manager has begun, but who will fill Lee Johnson’s shoes?

Johnson left the club at the weekend having agreed a three-and-a-half year deal to manage Championship side Bristol City.

His decision to leave was met with mixed reaction, after Reds’ owner Patrick Cryne stood by him when the club were rooted to the foot of League One.

But the lure of managing in the Championship – and at a club whom he played for 199 times – proved too great in the end. And that means the Reds are looking for yet another manager.

Former Swindon Town boss Mark Cooper is understand to be one of the leading candidates for the position, with Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth and Northampton Town boss Chris Wilder also believed to be interested.

Cooper is currently a free agent having been sacked by the Robins in October of last year, while Ainsworth penned a new five-an-a-half year deal in January last year at the League Two club.

Sheffield-born Wilder helped Town avoid relegation from League Two last season. He twice played for Sheffield United, and had spells at Rotherham and Bradford City.

And The Star understands that current caretaker head coach Paul Heckingbottom has a very good chance of landing the position on a permanent basis. Barnsley-born Heckingbottom has a long association foe the club, having played for them between 2006-2008 and be involved with the club’s youth levels for a number of years.

The Star understands the current squad are right behind him and his chances of landing the job will he helped by guiding the Reds to an excellent 3-0 home win over Bury on Sunday.

Another name on a growing list of candidates for the job is former Leeds, Wigan and Brentford boss Uwe Rosler, another boss out of work.

Meanwhile, Johnson yesterday issued a statement thanking the Reds’ board, staff, players and supporters: “I have built many strong friendships, on both a personal and professional level,” Johnson said.

“In my time at Barnsley I have resisted other job offers and opportunities. However, I have a deep affinity with Bristol City. When they came in for me, I couldn’t turn them down.”