By Harry Sykes

Neil Warnock is convinced that Nigel Pearson would be a better appointment for Aston Villa than Roberto Di Matteo.

Championship expert Warnock delivered his verdict shortly before it emerged that Di Matteo is on the verge of taking over at Villa Park.

Widespread reports claimed on Thursday evening that Di Matteo could be named as the new manager within days following fresh talks with chairman Steve Hollis.

Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson was also on Villa’s shortlist but he is now expected to miss out on the club who finished bottom of the Premier League this season.

Warnock was interviewed after deciding not to sign a new deal with Championship club Rotherham after steering them to second-tier safety.

“Personally, I think Pearson would be better than Di Matteo,”Warnock said, when asked on talkSPORT’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show who Aston Villa should appoint. “Only because of the Championship and what it entails. Villa is not going to be a straightforward job. I think Nigel has the pedigree.”

Warnock has also urged Villa to keep hold of centre-back Ciaran Clark, who has been linked with a £5million move to West Brom this summer.

“They need to keep people like Ciaran Clark, who I think is a super player,” Warnock told talkSPORT.

Di Matteo’s achievements at Chelsea, winning the Champions League in 2012, have pushed him to the front of the Villa queue.

Prospective new owner Tony Xia, the Chinese millionaire, believes Di Matteo’s profile will help boost Villa’s popularity in the Far East and admitted in an interview earlier this week that he was a leading candidate.

Di Matteo has been out of management since resigning from Schalke last year.

In other Aston Villa news, Dimitri Payet’s agent is set to seal a Premier League move for a Villa midfielder.