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Stoke want Quique Sanchez Flores to replace Mark Hughes - reports

Stoke want Quique Sanchez Flores to replace Mark Hughes - reports

ESPN

Carlos Carvalhal is determined to hold onto star defender Alfie Mawson, suggesting Swansea would only consider selling the England Under-21 defender if they received an offer in the region of £50 million.

Mawson has been heavily linked with Watford and West Ham in the January transfer window, while Celtic and Everton are also reportedly interested in the 23-year-old Londoner.

Swansea signed Mawson from Barnsley for £5m in August 2016 and he has two-and-a-half-years left on his contract at the Liberty Stadium.

But Carvalhal insists buying rather than selling is on the agenda of the Premier League's bottom club this month, with the Portuguese saying that chairman Huw Jenkins has given him assurances that Mawson will not be leaving the club.

"When I signed [as manager last month] it was very clear we would try and bring in players to improve the team,'' he said.

"We will not sell the best players in January, the message is clear.

"I have had guarantees from the chairman, but it depends if someone comes in and gives £50m, £100m, £250m.

"Of course, then it is completely different -- to me, [Philippe] Coutinho or Neymar.

"You can never say that it will not happen, but the fundamental idea is not to sell players and try to improve the team.''

Carvalhal used a fishing analogy last week when he suggested Swansea would have to buy "sardines and not lobster'' in January.

If that was a sign that Swansea will not be spending millions in their attempt to escape relegation, Carvalhal said the club have been busy in their pursuit of targets.

Keeping the fishing talk going, he said: "The boat is on the sea -- but the fish didn't bite the hook.

"There is nothing so far, but you never know when the boat is on the sea.

"It depends if you have a storm or whether the fish are sleeping or not if they come to the boat or not.

"I won't talk about numbers but I want quality players. If we bring some quality players in, it will be on our budget.''

Swansea travel to Newcastle on Saturday with doubts over Renato Sanches and Tammy Abraham.

However, South Korea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng could return after a month out with a calf injury.

"The team against Watford, Tottenham and Wolves played like I want at that moment,'' Carvalhal said about his first three games in charge.

"Let's see game by game. It is not just the philosophy, it is trying to achieve points.

"It will not happen in two days or two weeks.

"It might not be possible for the team to play as I want after just a month, what is important is that we fight to win games.''

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy will be fit to face Chelsea after recovering from a groin injury.

The England international missed Saturday's FA Cup draw at former club Fleetwood but will travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Captain Wes Morgan and defender Danny Simpson remain out with a hamstring problems but Vicente Iborra (hamstring) Christian Fuchs (illness) are available for the Foxes.

Boss Claude Puel said: "He will be available for the game, there is no problem with Jamie. He can train well this week.

"I don't know how long Wes will stay outside the squad but I hope to have some good news and hope I can speak about the end of the injury.

"Simpson can run a little which is good news and we will see when he can come back into the team."

Meanwhile, Puel confirmed the Foxes are close to the signing of Fousseni Diabate from French Ligue 2 club Gazelec Ajaccio.

They have agreed a fee of around £2million for the 22-year-old, who can play either as a striker or a winger.

Puel said: "He is close to signing and it's a good opportunity for us. In the past Leicester haven't signed bad players from Ligue 2, like [Riyad] Mahrez.

"He has quality, pace, penetration and is good with ball at his feet. He can play as a winger wide right or left and striker also.

"He's an interesting player for the future and will be between the Under-23 and Premier League squad -- he has quality to play in Premier League. He's a young player but has all the attributes to become a good player."

Espanyol and former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores is Stoke's first choice to succeed Mark Hughes, multiple outlets are reporting.

Reports say a Stoke delegation met Flores in Barcelona on Wednesday, and that Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is also under consideration.

The Potters sacked boss Hughes last weekend after the 2-1 FA Cup loss at League Two Coventry, which followed a run of seven losses in 10 Premier League games.

The 18th-placed Staffordshire outfit were interested in Derby manager Gary Rowett until he signed a new contract with the Rams on Tuesday.

Flores' one season in English football to date saw him guide Watford to a 13th-placed Premier League finish in 2015-16, with the Hornets also reaching the FA Cup semifinals.

The 52-year-old Spaniard then took charge at Espanyol in the summer of 2016, on a three-year deal, and they finished eighth in La Liga last term. They were 14th ahead of Thursday's match at Levante.

O'Neill and his coaching team agreed contract extensions with the Football Association of Ireland last October.

But the 65-year-old said after the Republic lost their World Cup qualifying playoff the following month that he would need to have "a real think'' about his future, and still nothing has been signed.

Since the departure of Hughes and his assistant Mark Bowen, first-team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki has been in temporary charge at Stoke, taking training ahead of Monday's league clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Niedzwiecki has been assisted by Under-18s boss Kevin Russell, who faced the media at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

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

"He was very liked, and it's sad when someone loses their job. It was a matter of picking them up on Monday a little bit -- there are players who were hurting, and rightly so.

"But as the week has gone on, we all know football -- it's just a matter now of getting on with it and trying to prepare for the new manager coming in, making sure the players are in the right frame of mind, or the game on Monday, whichever it is [that comes first].

"It was difficult at first but they have picked up over the last couple of days.

"Whoever comes in is coming into a fantastic football club. They will be a lucky manager.

"Eddie's in charge and I'm just helping him out. I don't think there is a timescale on it. Obviously the owners want to make sure it's the right person, which can be difficult. I'm sure they'll try to get it done as soon as possible.

"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.''

Defenders Erik Pieters and Bruno Martins Indi, sidelined of late by hamstring and groin injuries respectively, could be available for selection for Monday having returned to training this week.

ESPN