Next Birmingham City manager: Ex-Sheffield United and Leeds United boss 'high' on candidate list as former Sunderland & Celtic man 'set for talks'

Sheffield Wednesday's relegation rivals Birmingham City are on the hunt for their third manager of the season and a former Sheffield United boss is said to be high on their wishlist

Former Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is 'high' on Birmingham City's list of possible replacement for Wayne Rooney, according to reports. The former Manchester United and Everton striker was sacked by the Blues earlier this week following a run of just two wins in 15 Championship games.

Heckingbottom was let go by the Blades earlier this season after a tough start to the Premier League campaign that saw United struggle to find their way out of the relegation zone after automatic promotion last season.

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According to Craig Hope of the Daily Mail, Heckingbottom is a potential candidate for the role as Birmingham seek to find a swift replacement for Rooney. The revelation comes after reports from the same outlet that former Sunderland and Celtic manager Tony Mowbray is set to hold talks with the club on Thursday. Mowbray surprisingly left Sunderland and has had offers to return to the game after conducting an impressive job at the Stadium of Light in his 15-month spell in charge, but so far remains out of work.

Birmingham's decision to part ways with Rooney coincides with an upturn in form for Sheffield Wednesday, who are now just six points behind the Blues with just under half of the season still remaining. Despite Heckingbottom being touted as candidate, it is unclear if the former Leeds United, Barnsley and Hibs boss would be keen to take on the role after his success at Bramall Lane.

The Blues sacked John Eustace, who had guided the club to sixth earlier in the season, in order to appoint Rooney. But announcing his departure, chief executive officer, Garry Cook, commented: “We are committed to doing what is necessary to bring success to St. Andrew’s. Unfortunately, Wayne’s time with us did not go as planned and we have decided to move in a different direction. The search for a successor begins with immediate effect and we will update supporters when we have further news."

Rooney issued a statement of his own, saying: "I would like to thank Tom Wagner, Tom Brady and Garry Cook for the opportunity to manage Birmingham City FC and the support they gave me during my short period with the club.

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"Football is a results business – and I recognise they have not been at the level I wanted them to be. However, time is the most precious commodity a manager requires and I do not believe 13 weeks was sufficient to oversee the changes that were needed. Personally, it will take me some time to get over this setback. I have been involved in professional football, as either a player or manager, since I was 16.

"Now, I plan to take some time with my family as I prepare for the next opportunity in my journey as a manager. Finally, I wish Birmingham City FC and its owners my best wishes in the pursuit of their ambitions."

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