Belfast Telegraph

Shiels and Breslin in the frame as Cliftonville seek fresh momentum following Gray sacking

 

Kenny Shiels
Kenny Shiels

By Conor McLaughlin

Kenny Shiels is an early front-runner for the vacant Cliftonville job - but could face competition from a familiar figure.

Former Solitude supremo Tommy Breslin has also been linked with a return to the club where he enjoyed unparalleled success and, though others have tried and failed to coax the popular 57-year-old back into the game in recent years, his beloved Reds enjoy the benefit of a greater tug on his heartstrings.

The north Belfast side are on the look out for a replacement for Barry Gray, who was given his marching orders in the aftermath of Saturday's dismal 3-1 defeat to Dungannon Swifts.

Having come under mounting pressure following Irish Cup elimination by the same opponents a fortnight back, Gray's 20-month tenure came to an abrupt end when he became just the second manager in Cliftonville's history to be sacked - following on from Eddie Patterson eight years ago - as the Reds seek a fresh injection of momentum to boost their prospects of European qualification.

Though the club's hierarchy are expected to name an interim appointment from within their current staff today, it's understood that both they and ex-Derry City chief Shiels are mutually open to discussing the vacancy.

Double title-winning legend Breslin, who cited work commitments as the driving force behind his resignation in September 2015, could also come into the reckoning, potentially on a temporary basis, with many Cliftonville supporters also keen for chairman Gerard Lawlor to gauge Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton's interest in the role, while Warrenpoint Town's Stephen McDonnell - another possibility in a slim pool of fully-qualified managerial options - has moved to play down talk of replacing Gray in the Solitude dugout.

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