Quique Sanchez Flores: Stoke want Espanyol's ex-Watford boss to replace Hughes

Flores emerges as Stoke's first choice

Quique Sanchez Flores: Stoke want Espanyol's ex-Watford boss to replace Hughes

Stoke have been on the lookout for a new manager since getting rid of Mark Hughes last week and have been courting Espanyol head coach Flores.

Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to tell Espanyol today that he's leaving them to take the reins at Stoke City.

It is claimed the two clubs are still "hammering out a deal", however, with Espanyol demanding £3.5 million to part with the 52-year-old. who led them to eighth in La Liga last season.

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The Hornets made the ill-advised decision to replace the former Spain defender with Walter Mazzarri despite Sanchez Flores keeping the Vicarage Road club in the Premier League at the first time of asking and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals. They were 14th ahead of Thursday's match at Levante.

With Martin O'Neill's future as Ireland manager still up in the air due to links with the vacant Stoke City job, it appears that he is now a back-up plan for the Potters, according to reports.

Stoke had hoped to have their new manager in place for the Premier League game against Manchester United on 15 January - but it is thought Flores might not arrive by then.

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Russell said: "It's been a bit hard with a manager gone who is really well-respected in the club".

"It was hard at first but they have picked up over the last couple of days".

"Eddie's in charge and I'm just helping him out". Obviously the owners want to make sure it's the right person, which can be hard.

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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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