Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson
Bradford City boss Phil Parkinson has emerged as a target for Midlands rivals Derby County and Nottingham Forest, according to a report in Tuesday's Sun newspaper (page 48).
The 48-year-old has worked minor miracles in West Yorkshire, leading the Bantams to the final of the League Cup and promotion via the League Two play-offs in the space of three months and establishing them at the top end of the third tier.
Though they were stopped in their tracks by Millwall in the League One play-offs, it's been a successful campaign overall for Parkinson's City, who, with only 55 goals scored throughout the regular league season, have been forced to rely on the division's second most watertight defence to win many of their 80 points.
Presented by Phil Parkinson, The Telegraph & Argus Player of the Year award goes to Reece Burke. What a night for that man! #BCAFC— Bradford City AFC (@officialbantams) April 26, 2016
The 19-year-old appeared 34 times in the league, scored twice, assisted once and had a 50 per cent clean sheet rate (that's 17, in case you've had a long day) and is unlikely to return to the third tier next year - though it doesn't mean he won't reunite with Parkinson.
Despite Burke's success at Valley Parade, the jump to West Ham's first team remains a sizeable one, especially with four top-level established centre-backs - James Collins, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and James Tomkins - seemingly ahead of him.
West Ham's Winston Reid celebrates scoring their third goal against Manchester United
A temporary spell in the Championship therefore seems a very realistic option for the player who began the campaign in the Hammers' Europa League squad - and both Derby and Forest could have vacancies.
Two of the Rams' five central defenders, Alex Pearce and Raul Albentosa, ended the campaign both out on loan and out of favour, while Forest's pool looks set to decrease by 25 per cent (to three) with Kelvin Wilson's contract expiring.
With Derby hell-bent on promotion and Forest nearing fresh investment, both clubs should be attractive propositions next season - not only for Parkinson but his protege too.
Bradford City's Reece Burke and James Meredith celebrate