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Steve McClaren to make Derby exit with Paul Clement set to succeed him?

Reports overnight in the British press claim Steve McClaren will leave his role as Derby County head coach, and Real Madrid assistant manager Paul Clement is being lined up as his replacement.

With 13 games of the regular Championship season to go, the Rams were in pole position to gain promotion to the Premier League, but then won just two more matches and missed out even on the play-offs, finishing eighth.

Consistently linked with the vacancy at Newcastle United throughout the spring, former Middlesbrough and England boss McClaren could still make a swift return to management at St James’ Park.

The time may now be right for Clement, 43, to strike out on his own after acting as number two to Carlo Ancelotti for the Italian coach at Chelsea, PSG and the Bernabeu.

With Ancelotti’s own future shrouded in doubt after failing to steer Los Blancos to a trophy during his second season with the Spanish capital club, and outgoing Napoli and ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez now touted as the next to take on the Galacticos job, Clement may soon be out of work.

McClaren met with Derby officials, including incoming chairman Mel Morris on the evening of May 21st, but sources within Pride Park suggest his time in charge will end after 20 months.

Succeeding Nigel Clough at the East Midlands outfit in September 2013, McClaren has won 51 of his 94 games in charge – a ratio of 54 per cent – yet lost in the 2014 Championship play-off final to former club QPR.

Rams chief executive Sam Rush had planned to conduct an end-of-season review, but McClaren flew back early from his holiday to hold talks over his future.

Previously stating his intention to meet with McClaren, Rush said: “You have to look at the whole and be a little bit careful not be too draconian in any assessment.”

That assessment appears to have ended in County being set to name a third different manager in less than two years.