Flores first choice to be new Stoke manager

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But Espanyol boss Sanchez Flores appears to have been their No 1 target all along.

ESPANYOL MANAGER QUIQUE Flores Sanchez reportedly has until tomorrow to accept Stoke City's offer to take charge.

Martin O'Neill, the Republic of Ireland manager, is still regarded as an attractive option by chairman Peter Coates but Flores could make his return to English football next week.

Stoke were keen to find a coach with Premier League experience after their dismissal of Mark Hughes, and were impressed with Sanchez Flores' performance during his one season with Watford. With Gary Rowett signing an extended contract with Derby and Slaven Bilic been dismissed as not been a runner, candidates were beginning to fall but the Spaniard looks the man in pole position to land the job in the Potteries.

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Sanchez led Watford to 13th spot in the Premier League and the FA Cup semi-finals before being sacked in May 2016.

Espanyol are already lining up former Malaga manager Javi Gracia to replace the 52 year-old, with sources at the club admitting that a change of head coach is imminent.

Niedzwiecki has been assisted by Under-18s boss Kevin Russell, who faced the media at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"He was very liked, and it's sad when someone loses their job".

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The Sun cites reports in Spain which claim the former Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid manager, could still take charge of Espanyol against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

"Whoever comes in is coming into a fantastic football club".

Defenders Erik Pieters and Bruno Martins Indi, sidelined of late by hamstring and groin injuries respectively, could be available for selection for Monday having returned to training this week.

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