Stoke managerial target Quique Sanchez Flores refused to answer questions about his future following Espanyol’s Copa del Rey tie on Thursday night.

RTÉ Sport understands Flores is the Premier League club’s first choice to replace Mark Hughes and that a Stoke delegation met with the former Watford boss in Barcelona on Wednesday.

However, Flores preferred to focus on Espanyol’s cup exploits rather than discuss himself after seeing his side overcome a first-leg deficit against Levante to reach the quarter-finals.

Asked if he had received an offer from Stoke, the 52-year-old Spaniard told a post-match press conference as reported by the Spanish media: “I’m not going to talk about me on such an important day for Espanyol. It’s a day for Espanyol, for the club, for the players, it’s a day to celebrate for having qualified for the quarters.

“I don’t want to talk about me, but to enjoy these moments. I want to continue being happy with my profession.”

The ex-Atletico Madrid and Benfica boss added: “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.

“Right now we’re not thinking about anything other than today’s game and Sunday’s match against Athletic (Bilbao).”

Stoke sacked 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.

It is also understood that Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is under consideration for the top job at the bet365 Stadium.

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.

“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).

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



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