Ian Cathro set to quit Newcastle to become Hearts manager

Ian Cathro

Ian Cathro

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Newcastle United coach Ian Cathro is the clear front runner to replace Robbie Neilson as Hearts boss.

Tynecastle officials are confident of luring Cathro north once Neilson is confirmed as the new manager of MK Dons, which should happen by the end of the week.

Hearts have made it clear the 30-year-old Scot is the man they want to fill the head coach's role and Cathro is keen to take the opportunity.

Director of football Craig Levein is expected to take temporary charge of Hearts this weekend when they visit Ross County, regardless of whether Cathro's appointment comes this week or next.

Neilson will be in the dugout for the final time at Tynecastle when Hearts face Rangers and will then take up his new post in Buckinghamshire.

He was in Milton Keynes yesterday to discuss personal terms with the MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman. His Hearts assistant Stevie Crawford will almost certainly head south with him.

Cathro worked under Levein at Dundee United, where he was appointed head of the Tannadice youth academy at the age of 22. He has since worked in Portugal as assistant coach of Rio Ave, and in Spain as assistant at Valencia.

He was brought to Newcastle by Steve McClaren in 2015, but was kept on by Rafa Benitez once he took over as Toon manager, with the Spaniard impressed by Cathro.