Barnsley boss Heckingbottom calms Sunderland speculation ahead of Canaries clash
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Barnsley’s highly-rated boss Paul Heckingbottom insists he is not on the verge of becoming the next Sunderland manager ahead of his team’s trip to Norfolk tomorrow.
The Tykes will head to Carrow Road looking for their third Championship win on the bounce but with their manager been strongly linked with the vacancy at the Stadium of Light.
Heckingbottom, who made 16 appearances for Norwich during the 2002-03 season, led Barnsley to promotion via the League One play-offs before securing a mid-table finish last season.
“We have been sat here before, so the situation is no different,” the 40-year-old said. “I have been asked these sorts of questions before about different clubs at different times. It is just what happens in football.
“It is all hypothetical. Until anything happens, I can’t tell you because I don’t know the club’s thoughts on it or my thoughts on it. We’ve obviously spoken and had these conversations (him and Barnsley) but they will remain private. As it stands there is nothing in it.”
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He added: “It is not being big-headed in any way, but you would like to think you are on people’s lists. Whether they will take it any further is down to them, but it is no different to me sitting here before when I have been asked similar questions about other situations.”
Heckingbottom confirmed he is on a rolling contract with the South Yorkshire side but did his best to not add fuel to the fire after north-east media claimed Sunderland were keen to appoint him.
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“Nothing’s changed, I’ve always said I’m happy here,” he continued, speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield. “But I’m also ambitious, driven, of course I am but I’m happy here.
“Throughout my time, coaching, playing, now coaching at first team level, there have definitely been opportunities, if I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t be here. So everyone knows that I want to be here.”
The Tykes were beaten 2-0 at Carrow Road in March but Heckingbottom knows his team will face a very different City side after a summer of change.
“A different manager, a slightly different style,” he added. “They’ll still be a very good footballing side so we’re preparing for what’s going to be a really tough game.”