Paul Heckingbottom moves into pole position in race to become new Hibs head coach as Michael Appleton fails to agree terms with the capital club

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM is in pole position to become the new head coach of Hibernian after talks with Michael Appleton broke down.

It is understood that both managers impressed the Easter Road hierarchy during two rounds of interviews, emerging as the standout candidates following more than a week of talks with myriad applicants.

Appleton appeared to have won the battle for the Hibs hot-seat when he travelled to Edinburgh at the weekend for face-to-face talks with club chiefs.

However, the parties have been unable to overcome certain stumbling blocks during protracted negotiations in recent days.

While sources were reluctant to declare the deal dead last night, it now seems unlikely that the former Oxford, Blackpool, Blackburn and Portsmouth boss will succeed Neil Lennon, barring a dramatic resurrection of dialogue.

That leaves the door open for Heckingbottom – largely neck-and-neck with Appleton throughout the recruitment process – to land the role if he can agree terms in the coming days.

Hibs are keen to have a new head coach in place prior to Saturday’s visit of Hamilton in the Premiership, with caretaker boss Eddie May confirming after last weekend’s Scottish Cup win against Raith Rovers that he expected it to be his final match in charge.

May stated: “That will be my last game and I am delighted to go out on a win. The new man is coming in. I have been told this was my last game. I won’t be in charge for the Hamilton game.”

Heckingbottom is desperate to return to front-line management for the first time since being dismissed by Leeds United last June following just four months at the helm of the Elland Road giants.

However, he was a smash hit with his boyhood heroes, Barnsley, emerging through the ranks as a youth coach before taking on the top job in 2016. He won promotion to the Championship and lifted the EFL Trophy during a hugely successful two-year stint at Oakwell.

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