MIDDLESBROUGH’S path to appointing Garry Monk as head coach has been made clearer.

Monk has been identified by the bookmakers as the favourite to fill the managerial position at Crystal Palace, but The Northern Echo understands the Eagles’ decision makers are looking at other contenders for the post.

Palace are believed to be looking at those who managed above Championship level last season as they look to avoid a collapse of Sunderland proportions following Sam Allardyce’s decision to quit.

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Middlesbrough are interested in talking to Monk following his decision to quit Leeds United, where ironically Aitor Karanka is now the firm favourite to take over after conformation that Victor Orta has been installed as technical director at Elland Road.

Steve Gibson, the Middlesbrough chairman, is looking to have made significant progress by the end of this week, with Monk and Nigel Pearson the two main candidates.

Pearson has returned from holiday and is expected to have discussions with Boro over the next few days.

The former Boro captain has publicly hinted he would like the role when he was asked a few weeks ago, while Monk has not made any remark about the situation since leaving Leeds last week.

Gibson has remained tight-lipped throughout the recruitment process, and he is yet to make a statement on Steve Agnew’s position despite the Premier League season ending ten days ago.

But Gibson is keen to get things sorted as soon as he can, having initially been happy to wait for the season to come to a close and for things to settle down.

There is still support from the dressing room for Agnew, but the silence from the boardroom since the final day defeat at Liverpool suggests he is only a back-up option.

Agnew only won one of his 11 matches in charge after taking over in mid-March.

He inherited a difficult situation, with splits in the camp and confidence low, but it would be a surprise to see him land the job on a permanent basis.

Leeds are expected to press ahead with a push to name Karanka as Monk’s successor at Elland Road.

The former Boro boss had been linked with the Wolves post, but agent Jorge Mendes is close to striking a deal to take ex-Porto chief Nuno Espirito instead following the decision to split with Paul Lambert.

Leeds confirmed yesterday that Orta has moved in as director of football after agreeing a deal to have his contract ended on Teesside.

He has been with Boro since December 2015. He said: “I am excited by the opportunity to become director of football at a great club like Leeds United.

“Once I had met with Andrea Radrizzani (the Leeds owner) and spoken to him about his plans to take the club forward, I knew that this was the right move for me and I am confident that we can achieve great things in the coming years.”

Radrizzani said: “I am delighted to welcome Victor to Elland Road, I have been impressed by his knowledge of the game, his extensive scouting network and his desire to help us achieve our objective of getting Leeds United back to the Premier League."