Reading last night vowed to fight off interest in Eamonn Dolan after their academy boss emerged as Leeds United’s first choice for the job of head coach at Elland Road.
Nicky Hammond, Reading’s director of football, effectively confirmed United’s interest in Dolan but described the Irishman as an “integral part of our club” and said Reading would not welcome any approach from Leeds.
United’s owner, Massimo Cellino, is understood to have singled out Dolan as his preferred option for the vacant head coach’s role and his favoured replacement for Brian McDermott.
Dolan has run the academy at Reading for 10 years and produced a number of prominent first-team players for the Championship side, among them ex-Leeds loanee Alex McCarthy.
Reading employed him as caretaker for a short time after sacking McDermott in 2013 and McDermott’s departure from Leeds last month has created a potential opportunity for Dolan at Leeds.
United would be forced to pay compensation for Dolan, who is under contract with Reading, and a deal is yet to be done. Cellino is currently in Italy, attempting to push forward the proposed sale of his Italian side Cagliari.
Hammond said: “Reading are aware of the interest of another Championship club in our academy manager Eamonn Dolan. Eamonn is an integral part of our club and is under contract to Reading.
“Eamonn has done an incredible job since taking over from Brendan Rodgers and we hope he will be a big part of our club for many years to come.
“He has a fantastic relationship with our manager Nigel Adkins and we do not welcome any approaches from any club for our key staff.
“We hope this is the end of the matter.”
Cellino said last week that he would appoint a “British coach” to replace McDermott, and former Forest Green Rovers boss Dave Hockaday remains in contention for the position at Elland Road. Ex-Leeds player and manager Gary McAllister has also been strongly linked with another return to the club.
United’s squad are due to report back for pre-season training on Thursday, June 26 ahead of a trip to Italy at the start of July.
The club have been without a manager since McDermott and Cellino agreed to part company on May 30.