Nigel Pearson has said Paul Simpson's departure from Bristol City was the Cumbrian's own decision.

It was confirmed last week that former Carlisle United manager Simmo was leaving the Robins "by mutual agreement".

The news immediately triggered speculation that Simpson could return to Brunton Park, with bookies making him favourite for the job on Friday.

It remains to be seen who United will choose to fill their managerial vacancy.

But Bristol City manager Pearson, also an ex-Blues boss, has said it was Simpson's choice to leave the Ashton Gate club.

In comments reported by Bristol Live, Pearson referred to Simpson whilst responding to press conference questions about another coach whose future is the subject of speculation, Keith Downing.

"I can't give you any confirmation as to where that will go at the moment [with Downing] but as I've already pointed out it was Paul's decision to settle with the club," Pearson said after a 3-0 defeat to West Brom.

"I don't want players at the club if they don't want to be here and likewise the staff. It's very straightforward in my head."

Simpson had joined the Championship club last year as part of Dean Holden's management team.

That followed a successful spell at the helm of England's Under-20s, who the Carlisle-born boss led to World Cup glory in 2017.

Earlier this year Simpson underwent treatment for renal cell carcinoma but returned to work at Bristol in late August.

Many Blues fans have called for managerless Carlisle to approach the man who led them to back-to-back promotions in 2005 and 2006.

Simmo is currently 8/1 fourth favourite for the United job with Sky Bet.

Yeovil's Darren Sarll is the latest unlikely favourite at 2/1 ahead of 3/1 shot Keith Hill, who is understood to be a more realistic contender for the job along with Keith Millen, who is 7/1.