Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the two clubs at Bramall Lane, Heckingbottom revealed he telephoned McCann after learning Turkish media mogul Acun Ilicali had installed former Rangers striker Shota Averaldze as his replacement.
After finding himself in similar circumstances during a spell in charge of Hibernian before arriving at United, initially as their under-23’s coach, Heckingbottom said: “Grant is a mate of mine so yes, of course I spoke to him.
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“It is unfair on Grant but no one has to talk to me about changing ownership because I’ve experienced it before myself. You know what happens when that occurs.
“People come in and they have their own ideas which is fair enough. The new owner there had someone he wanted to bring in and he’s perfectly within his rights to do that.
“I played with Grant when we were at Barnsley together. So I called him, as quite a few people I know did.”
Insisting his words should not be taken as a slight against either Ilicali or Averladze, who coached Trabzonspor, Kayerispor and Kasimpasa before moving to East Yorkshire, Heckingbottom said: “If Grant wants to get back in work, then he’ll be back in work soon enough. He has laid a really good foundation there and got them through some tough periods. The new regime will benefit from the work that he’s done, because he did a lot of good things there.”