CITY could face a tug-of-war with Yorkshire rivals Barnsley to land League One promotion specialist Simon Grayson.

The 48-year-old has been backed in to odds-on favourite to succeed Stuart McCall at the Valley Parade helm.

With Grayson's pedigree after taking four teams up from the third tier, including Leeds and Huddersfield, he would be viewed by many as the ideal fit.

But he is also among the leading contenders for the vacant Barnsley job after former Bantams defender Paul Heckingbottom left to take the reins at Elland Road earlier this week.

The opportunity to stay in the Championship with the Tykes following his sacking by Sunderland in October could prove their trump card, although there is a suggestion that the consortium who recently took charge there might look abroad.

If City cannot get Grayson, the Telegraph & Argus understands Phil Brown is another potentially strong candidate. Hannes Wolf remains second favourite in the odds but the German is understood to be a complete non-runner for the role.

Brown is currently on "gardening leave" after nearly five years in charge at Southend. That reign began at Valley Parade on Good Friday 2013 and the vacancy is likely to interest him.

The club's search appears to be leaning towards a more experienced manager who can make an immediate impact to keep the play-off ambitions alive.

It is possible any deal might be initially on a short-term basis for the rest of the season, which could then be reviewed in the summer.

Chairman Edin Rahic last night revealed that City had been "inundated" with applications in the wake of McCall's removal.

But the former manager's backroom staff will remain in charge for Saturday's crucial home clash with bottom club Bury.

Rahic said: "We have been inundated with applicants in the past 24 hours and have spoken to a number of high-calibre individuals.

"This is not a process we can rush but at the same time we appreciate the fans wanting to know that progress is being made.

"In the meantime, the existing back-room staff will be taking care of first-team affairs ahead of Saturday's game. This structure will remain in place until further notice."

Grayson won promotion from the division four times in an eight-year span, most recently with Preston in 2015.

He signed a three-year deal with Sunderland last June but survived only 18 games before being sacked four months later after a 3-3 draw with Phil Parkinson's Bolton.

He was at Valley Parade in July for a pre-season friendly, which Sunderland won 3-2.

Grayson did play briefly for City on loan from Blackburn in 2002, appearing seven times in the same team as McCall.