BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Lee Bowyer held more contract talks with Charlton Athletic yesterday – as rival Championship clubs added the play-off winning boss to their list of managerial candidates.
The 42-year-old is out of contract at the end of June along with assistant Johnnie Jackson and goalkeeping coach Andy Marshall.
Bowyer returned from a week-long family break in Dubai on Tuesday and there were further discussions over his future on Thursday.
West Bromwich Albion chiefs are keen to talk to the former Charlton, Leeds United, West Ham and Birmingham City midfielder about their vacancy. They parted company with Darren Moore in March with James Shan doing the job on a caretaker basis for the final months of last season.
And Derby County have done background checks on Bowyer as they cover themselves in case Frank Lampard leaves – the ex-England star linked with replacing Maurizio Sarri if he moves on to Juventus.
Lieven De Turck is responsible for conducting Charlton’s negotiations with Bowyer – although he will be completely guided in that by long-distance owner Roland Duchatelet.
There is a train of thought that the prospects of a takeover of the South London club – which has been up for sale for a lengthy period of time – could have slowed down the process with their highly-rated manager.
And the South London Press has continued to hear of interested parties in Charlton. They will be a more attractive proposition now that the SE7 outfit is only one promotion away from the Premier League.
But it all rests on the sale demands of Duchatelet, who has been anything but predictable in his handling of negotiations.
The uncertainty surrounding Bowyer is entirely in keeping with a club who have limped from issue to issue.
The hugely-popular boss had managed to change that to an extent – boasting a 58 per cent win record from his 59 matches in charge.
And if Bowyer was to leave it would be a huge own goal – especially as Duchatelet and De Turck could not claim to have done everything in their power to secure him on new terms.
Bowyer’s situation needs to be resolved as the clock ticks down for forming a squad for their return to the Championship.
There are just 11 senior players contracted to the Addicks.
And Bowyer staying would at least boost their hopes of keeping the likes of Joe Aribo and Patrick Bauer, both in the final weeks of their deals.
Bowyer is thought to still be pushing ahead with talking to potential signings.
Plymouth’s Ruben Lameiras, 24, is of interest. The Portuguese winger is a free agent in July and looks certain to leave Argyle, who were relegated to League Two. Bordeaux have also been linked.
Bowyer wants to bring Josh Cullen back for another season-long loan in South London. But the classy midfielder is expected to start pre-season with West Ham as he waits to see if he has a chance of being in the first-team picture.