David Unsworth
David Unsworth endured a difficult eight-game spell in charge of Everton's senior team earlier this season James Chance/Getty Images

Sam Allardyce believes David Unsworth would find it difficult to give up his position as Under-23s boss and director of coaching at Everton following links to the vacant senior post at Oxford United, but claims the 44-year-old will have to "take the plunge" at some stage if he wishes to become a manager.

Former defender Unsworth ended his lengthy playing career in 2009 and began coaching with Preston North End and Sheffield United before returning for a third stint at Goodison Park, where he initially served as assistant to Under-21 chief Alan Stubbs before taking over the youth setup following the latter's departure to Hibernian.

'Rhino' took temporary charge of first-team affairs in October after the sacking of Ronald Koeman and stated his desire to secure the job on a full-time basis, only for a dreadful run as caretaker that saw Everton win only two of eight matches to scupper those hopes.

Unsworth returned to his previous role in the aftermath of Allardyce's arrival but speculation over a possible exit began circulating earlier this week following reports from the Liverpool Echo that third-tier Oxford had made an approach for his services as they seek to replace Pep Clotet, who was dismissed after only six months on 22 January following a 2-1 home defeat by Bury.

Everton were said to have given permission for the two parties to discuss a potential agreement, but Unsworth told BBC Radio Oxford on Wednesday (7 February) that he would not be taking the job.

Allardyce was subsequently asked during a press conference held before the Premier League visit of Crystal Palace this weekend if the ex-centre-back was someone he wanted to see remain on Merseyside for the long-term given his close connection with the club.

"I think David's expressed his will to be a manager, hasn't he?" he replied, per Everton's official Periscope channel. "So I'm not so sure my opinion makes any difference whether he should or shouldn't stay because I haven't been here long enough.

"I think it's a board decision and David's decision in his own right if he feels that he needs to take the opportunity to be a manager. There's a lot of people that have worked with me who've had that same desire and gone on to be managers, gone on to be good managers.

"He's got a great position at the club at the moment and that's a very difficult decision for him to give up - I'm sure about that because Everton U23s is a very privileged position and he's done very well in it. But if his desire is to be a manager, then somewhere along the line he's going to have to take the plunge."