Nigel Pearson is set to be appointed Bristol City’s new head coach until the end of the season. The former Watford manager has been out of work since July but is set to return to management in the Championship.

Pearson guided Leicester to the Premier League in 2014 and his appointment will be regarded as a significant coup following Dean Holden’s sacking on Tuesday. The 57-year-old is understood to have held productive talks with City officials on Sunday and is thought to be close to signing a short-term contract with a view to a longer deal.

Pearson is unlikely to take charge in time for the trip to Middlesbrough on Tuesday but could be in the dugout for the match against Swansea on Saturday.

Holden was sacked following a run of six successive defeats, the latest of which came against Reading in midweek. The former England coaches Paul Simpson and Keith Downing took charge of the defeat against Barnsley on Saturday and are likely to remain part of Pearson’s staff.

Holden was appointed in August on a 12-month contract after a spell in interim charge following the sacking of Lee Johnson. City started the season with four wins but their promotion push has since stalled and Pearson, if the contractual formalities are completed, will take over a team languishing in 15th and having lost their past seven games.

Pearson was sacked by Watford last season with the club three points above the Premier League relegation zone. He left the club, who were relegated to the Championship, with the best points-per-game record (1.25) of any manager in Watford’s history.

In November he told the Guardian: “I can’t do things half-measure. I don’t do things half-measure. It’s really important for me to commit to something. I’ll only really know when either an opportunity comes along or if I feel that grab inside myself.”

Meanwhile, Bristol Rovers are set to appoint Joey Barton as their new manager. The former Newcastle midfielder left Fleetwood Town last month after two and a half years in charge and will succeed Paul Tisdale, who was sacked almost two weeks ago. The 38-year-old could take charge in time for their League One match against Wigan on Tuesday.

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