Quique Sanchez Flores silent on Stoke link after Copa del Rey win

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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.

He has a release clause worth €4m in his contract and Stoke are willing to pay that amount to Espanyol once Flores gives the signal to move back to England this month.

Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to tell Espanyol today that he's leaving them to take the reins at Stoke City. "It's a big day for Espanyol and I don't want to talk about me".

"I don't want to talk about me, but to enjoy these moments".

However, the 52-year-old avoided a direct answer, which only fuels speculation. I'm very grateful to Espanyol, I've been frustrated sometimes because we haven't advanced as fast as desired, but that's because Espanyol haven't been able to, not because they haven't wanted to.

The Potters sacked Mark Hughes on Saturday, with the club in the Premier League relegation zone.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is still in the running if Flores turns down the chance.

The Sun cites reports in Spain which claim the former Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid manager, could still take charge of Espanyol against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Russell said: "It's been a bit hard with a manager gone who is really well-respected in the club".

"A new manager could come in tomorrow, and it's just a matter of us trying to make sure the lads are prepared, organised and ready to go". They will be a lucky manager.

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