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Norwich City linked with interest in appointing Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke

PUBLISHED: 12:35 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:48 22 March 2017

Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke is being linked with Norwich City. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke is being linked with Norwich City. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

PA Wire

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke is the latest name to be touted with the head coach vacancy at Norwich City.

The 39-year-old former Mansfield and Hartlepool midfielder had figured in the initial odds being offered by bookmakers following the sacking of Alex Neil on Friday, March 10.

That early speculation was soon put to bed by City’s confirmation of an intention to install a new structure at the club, set to feature a sporting director working alongside a head coach.

National newspaper The Sun is today linking Clarke with the head coach role, following successive promotions with Rovers, winning the Conference play-offs in 2015 and automatic promotion from League Two last season.

That is despite Canaries chairman Ed Balls confirming the club’s intention to appoint a sporting director first, so that the new man can give his approval of the new head coach.

Clarke could fit the bill after a consistent run of success since moving into coaching, initially as a player-manager, leading Salisbury City to promotion via the Southern Premier Division play-offs in 2011 and the Conference South play-offs in 2013.

That earned him the assistant-manager role at Bristol Rovers, then in League Two, working under manager John Ward. With relegation looming Ward was elevated to director of football in the March of the 2013-14 season but Clarke couldn’t keep the Gas in the Football League as manager.

However, he made a lot of changes to the playing staff that summer – with Ward leaving the club – and led Rovers back to League Two at the first attempt, finishing second in the Conference Premier before beating Grimsby on penalties in the play-off final at Wembley.

His success then really ramped up last season when he secured successive promotions with third place in League Two, going on to turn down a move to Leeds United in the summer of 2016 to sign a new three-year contract at the Memorial Stadium.

That momentum has carried the Gas into a play-off chase in League One, currently sitting eighth and three points adrift of the top six, despite having lost top scorer Matty Taylor to local rivals Bristol City in January.

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