Sunderland face battle to land Paul Clement

FIRST CHOICE: Clement

FIRST CHOICE: Clement

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SUNDERLAND face a summer battle for managerial target Paul Clement, with Derby County the latest club to consider the Real Madrid assistant.

As the SportMail reported following Gus Poyet’s sacking last month, Clement is understood to be the leading contender to succeed the Uruguayan at the end of the season, with current head coach Dick Advocaat only occupying the position as a temporary measure.

Clement is thought to have been under consideration by Sunderland’s hierarchy for some time, with Carlo Ancelotti’s number two at the Bernabeu a former colleague of Black Cats sporting director Lee Congerton from their days together at Chelsea.

However, reports emerged yesterday that Clement is also a possibility for Championship outfit Derby, with the Rams making contingency plans in case current boss Steve McClaren departs at the end of the season.

Speculation continues over McClaren taking the reins at Newcastle United in the summer and despite his public protestations to the contrary, it is thought that it is a post which appeals to the former England manager.

It is understood that Clement is a name which has indeed been whispered about in football circles in the Midlands, and he fulfils Derby’s head coach and director of football structure, which has similarly made him an appealing target for Sunderland.

With Ancelotti’s long-term future as Madrid boss under increasing doubt, Clement could be free in the summer and publicly expressed his desire to experience front-line management earlier this season.

Sunderland and Derby are not likely to be alone in tracking Clement though, with QPR considering the 43-year-old prior to the temporary appointment of Chris Ramsey, while current West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is expected to depart at the end of his contract in June.

The Black Cats’ hopes of landing Clement may hinge on securing their Premier League status though, and that rests on current boss Advocaat, who signed a two-month deal to succeed Poyet.

Advocaat led his team to a 2-1 friendly win over SPL outfit Hamilton over the weekend after Sunderland were without a game due to their trip to Arsenal being postponed because of the Gunners’ FA Cup commitments.

As during last month’s international break, Advocaat decided to use the free weekend to watch his players in a game situation and included the majority of his first-teamers against the Scottish side.