Nottingham Forest want to appoint Barnsley’s Paul Heckingbottom as their new manager in time for Sunday’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal, The Sun claims on page 57 of its printed edition on Thursday.
The report elaborates that Heckingbottom has emerged as Forest’s first choice to replace Mark Warburton, who was sacked on New Year’s Eve following a run of one win in seven Championship matches.
Should Heckingbottom swap Oakwell for the City Ground, he would likely want to bring in a couple of his own signings during the January transfer window, so could one be Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher?
Heckingbottom’s comments on the 22-year-old, who scored eight goals in 27 appearances during a loan spell at Barnsley in 2016, suggests that he would be interested in a reunion if Boro made him available.
When asked by BBC Radio Sheffield if Fletcher was on his radar, Heckingbottom replied: "Yeah... wait and see. He’s their player so we can’t do anything. We could throw our hat in for every single player at every club, but it’s up to the parent club what they do with them.
"We know what he is, what he’s about. He's one of a number of young players at lots of clubs (for whom) the hardest step is becoming established in a first team. There's lots of different routes to doing that. You can do it at your parent club, you can go out on loan, you maybe have to get a move - whatever it is."
Former Manchester United youngster Fletcher joined Middlesbrough from West Ham United for £6.5m in the summer - fee reported by BBC Sport - but has made only three league starts at the Riverside.
Fletcher has found ex-Forest strikers Britt Assombalonga and Patrick Bamford, as well as Denmark international Martin Braithwaite and Rudy Gestede ahead of him in the pecking order on Teesside.
The Tricky Trees have plenty of attacking players themselves, but most of them are more comfortable out wide and they have been lacking in centre-forward options since selling Assombalonga to Boro.
If Heckingbottom does make the move to Nottingham, don’t be surprised if Fletcher follows.