Quique Sanchez Flores leading candidate for Stoke job

Espanyol head coach Quique Sanchez Flores was tight-lipped after qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey

Espanyol head coach Quique Sanchez Flores was tight-lipped after qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey

But Flores refused to answer questions about his future after Espanyol's Copa del Rey win over Levante on Thursday night.

However, according to well-placed Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, Stoke have put former Watford boss Flores top of their wishlist after sending representatives to meet him in Barcelona, with the pursuit of O'Neill acting as a Plan B.

It could take a cheque for around £3m to get Flores out of Espanyol because he still has 18 months of his current deal to run.

"I'm not going to talk about me on such an important day for Espanyol", he told reporters after the match.

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"I do not want to talk about me in such a big day for the club (Espanyol qualified for quarters of Cup)... you know I have been frustrated sometimes. I want to continue being happy with my profession".

"He was approached by Stoke", Balague said on Off The Ball tonight.

"Right now we're not thinking about anything other than today's game and Sunday's match against Athletic [Bilbao]".

According to BBC Sport, Stoke have made Sánchez Flores their back-up target if a bid to bring in Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill fails, the main stumbling block to that eventuality being that O'Neill will insist on combining his global role with attempting to reverse Stoke's fortunes. O'Neill and his coaching team agreed contract extensions with the Football Association of Ireland last October.

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