West Bromwich Albion are inching closer to appointing a new head coach and want the situation resolved before they face Southampton in the Premier League at the weekend.
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There have been claims in the Spanish media that former Osasuna boss Jose Luis Mendilibar is on the verge of being appointed but, although the intention is to name a successor to Steve Clarke in the next few days, sources at the Hawthorns have told ESPN FC that nothing has been finalised.
However, Mendilibar is believed to have held talks with sporting and technical director Richard Garlick and is under consideration.
Albion have also been linked with ex-Hannover 96 boss Mirko Slomka and it is believed that Mauricio Pellegrino, former England under-21 coach Stuart Pearce and Pepe Mel have all been spoken to in the three weeks since Clarke was sacked.
Caretaker coach Keith Downing stated at the weekend that he has been charged with preparing the team for the Southampton game after taking six points from four games in charge but does not want the post on a permanent basis.
Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long believes Downing would be a good fit for the job and feels the players would be happy if he was given a chance by chairman Jeremy Peace.
But with Downing determined to return to the coaching ranks, Long has called upon Peace to bring to an end the uncertainty about the new head coach.
"We’d like a bit of clarity, not least for the players to understand what the rules will be under a new manager," Long said in the Birmingham Mail. "It’s always a new lease of life because people want to impress him, but the lads are playing well for Keith and that’s important too so if he stays a bit longer that’s good too.
"We’re surprised Keith doesn’t want it because he’s been at the club a long time, he knows his football and he’s good enough. He knows how the club runs and I’d like to think he was in with a shout but it was his decision. If he doesn’t want to be selected I hope he stays on as a coach."
Peace has placed all transfer activity on hold while the search for a new head coach continues and the situation is not helping Long, who is close to moving into the final year of his contract, although Albion hold the option of a further 12 months.
Hull City still retain an interest in the striker, along with Nottingham Forest and Stoke City, and one of the new head coach's first tasks will be to decide on Long's future.
A suitable offer could see Albion sell this month and Long is uncertain about his situation, saying: "No offers have gone in, no offers have been accepted and I know as much as anyone else does.
"I’m just concentrating on training and trying to get three points at Southampton. There have been no further talks and there are no further offers on the table.
"I’m contracted until the end of this season and then if West Brom want to take up the option after that then I’ll have another season. I’ll play as long as my contract is here if West Brom still want me.
"I train every day and try to get my name on the team sheet on Saturday. The rest will take care of itself. At the moment I’m a West Brom player and that’s all I’m concentrating on."