Blackpool manager Michael Appleton to begin talks with Blackburn

Rovers hunting for Henning Berg replacement

Blackburn have moved a step closer to naming their third manager this season after Blackpool gave them permission to open talks with Michael Appleton.

Rovers made an official approach to their npower Championship counterparts last night and former Portsmouth boss Appleton, who only took the reins at Bloomfield Road on November 7, now appears set to succeed Henning Berg at Ewood Park.

Blackpool first-team coach Ashley Westwood will also discuss terms with Rovers

A statement on Blackpool's official website, http://www.blackpoolfc.co.uk, read: "Blackpool FC can confirm that, following discussions with Blackburn Rovers and Michael Appleton, permission has been granted for the manager and Ashley Westwood to discuss personal terms with the club."

Following widespread reports this morning that Blackpool had rejected the initial approach for Appleton, Blackburn managing director Derek Shaw told Press Association Sport that the two clubs remained "in discussions".

Appleton's scheduled 12:30pm press briefing at Pool's Squires Gate training ground was cancelled and assistant manager Steve Thompson took first-team training in his absence.

Blackburn caretaker manager Gary Bowyer told his own press conference that he expects to remain in charge for tomorrow night's televised clash with Wolves at Molineux.

Reserve team boss Bowyer and Rovers' head of youth Terry McPhillips have overseen three consecutive wins since Berg was sacked on December 27, following one win in 10 matches as Steve Kean's replacement.

Last week Blackburn issued a statement to confirm the duo would remain in charge until the end of January but Bowyer fully understands the altered circumstances.

He said: As far as we're aware we were told we had it until the end of January but, like I stressed last week when that announcement was made, we understand that anything can happen in that month.

"That seems to be what's happened at the moment. The club have made an approach and it's an official approach.

"To be perfectly honest, it's nothing to do with me. It's a board matter. I think it would be wrong of me to comment on a manager at another football club.

"Until we're told otherwise we'll continue to do what we've done and that's prepare the players for the game tomorrow."

Appleton has won two and drawn seven of his 11 Championship games in charge of Blackpool having taken over on the back of Ian Holloway's departure to Crystal Palace.

His last victory was a 2-0 home triumph over Blackburn in the penultimate match of Berg's reign.

The Seasiders lie 14th in the table and six points shy of the play-offs - one point and one place behind Rovers.

Blackburn's outspoken global advisor Shebby Singh appears to have been marginalised during the pursuit of Appleton, with last night's official statement attributed to Shaw following a widely reported breakdown in relations between the two in the wake of Berg's sacking.

PA

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