CLIFTONVILLE Football Club has made a formal approach to Institute to speak with Paddy McLaughlin as the Reds step up their search for a new manager.
The ‘Stute boss has emerged as a front-runner for the vacant Cliftonville hot-seat and its understood the Solitude club want to enter into discussions with the Creggan man in the coming days.
Former Derry City manager, Kenny Shiels was also believed to be a strong candidate to replace Barry Gray who was sacked last month.
However, McLaughlin is understood to be the preferred choice given his success with Institute over the past 18 months and the Belfast club are keen to have the successful candidate in charge for the club’s next league game against Newry City on Saturday week.
“I’ve been told that Cliftonville has made contact with Institute,” confirmed McLaughlin who admits he’s flattered by the interest. “Cliftonville are a massive club. They’re one of the biggest clubs in the north and it’s nice to be mentioned.
“However, I’m only getting mentioned with the job and recognised because of all the hard work the boys have done at Institute over the last 18 months.
“I haven’t heard directly from Cliftonville yet and until such time I’m fully focused on the job at hand and our preparations for next week’s game against Ballymena.”
Institute is McLaughlin’s first managerial job but he led the Derry club to the Irish League’s top flight after they won the Championship last season despite playing the majority of the campaign on the road due to flood damage at the club’s traditional home at the Riverside Stadium.
The highly respected former Derry City defender has guided ‘Stute to a hugely impressive seventh spot in the Dankse Bank Premiership table so far this season, just one place below Cliftonville and 13 points clear of second from bottom club, Newry.