By Harry Sykes
Aston Villa have set a deadline of later this month to appoint a new manager regardless of a proposed takeover, according to a report.
Nigel Pearson is the leading contender to replace the recently sacked Remi Garde.
According to the Telegraph, talks with the former Leicester manager are at an advanced stage.
It is said that Villa chairman Steve Hollis met Pearson last week as the relegated Premier League club prepare for life in the Championship.
Villa are also in negotiations over a sale and Pearson is currently in a state of limbo while three parties bid to buy the club from American owners Randy Lerner.
Hollis is considering bids from the UK, America and China and told supporters at a recent forum that talks are at a delicate stage.
He also revealed that a new manager would not be installed until a takeover was finalised.
Nevertheless, the Telegraph report that a cut-off date of later this month has been agreed to appoint the manager.
Pearson would need his appointment to be rubber-stamped by the new owners, although it appears increasingly likely he will make his return to management at Villa Park.
The 52-year-old has been out of work since his departure from Leicester 11 months ago.