BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
NEWCASTLE boss Rafa Benitez is adamant Hearts target Ian Cathro is destined for a “great future” in management – but insists the Magpies are yet to receive a formal approach for their first-team coach.
The Jambos are keen to make the 30-year-old the youngest head coach in Scottish football after earmarking him as their number one target to replace Robbie Neilson.
It is understood Cathro would be open to a return north of the border to work with director of football Craig Levein, renewing a partnership from their time together at Dundee United.
However, the Dundee-born coach was present at Newcastle training on Thursday and, while it is thought the Championship club will not stand in Cathro’s way, Benitez confirmed the capital club have not yet made their move.
“Ian is a great young coach with good experience and he has a great future,” lauded Benitez. “But I don’t need to do publicity for Ian!”
Cathro cut his teeth as a youth coach with United, helping to bring through the like of Ryan Gauld and current Hearts star John Souttar. He also developed the revolutionary small-scale training method of ‘Box Soccer’.
Since then he has worked as assistant manager to Nuno Espirito Santo at Rio Ave in Portugal and Spanish giants Valencia, before occupying a similar role at Newcastle under Steve McClaren and, most recently, Benitez.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on Thursday afternoon, he added: “We do not have an official approach. He is our coach and we are happy with him. We will carry on.
“I have no idea if we’ll get an approach. Every is talking about the same thing but it depends on their head coach [Neilson] at the moment.”