Blackburn Rovers told "hands off" Craig Hignett says Hartlepool United chairman Gary Coxall

Craig Hignett: Odds-on favourite

Craig Hignett: Odds-on favourite

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Hartlepool United chairman Gary Coxall has issued a "hands off" warning to Blackburn after Craig Hignett emerged as the odds on favourite to be the new Rovers boss.

The Pools boss is rated at 7-25 by SkyBet to replace the departing Paul Lambert at Ewood Park, less than 1-4 in 'old money'.

But Coxall tweeted that Hignett was going no-where, though he could understand why club would be interested in him.

Coxall tweeted: "Just to reassure everyone... No one has made an approach and will get told "hands off" if they even try."

He added: "I can also say I understand if there was any interest in our Gaffer though. #topmanager #handsoff."

Hignett has made an excellent start at Pools, transforming the side from relegation candidates to a final position of 16th in League Two in his first manager's job.

And while viewed as a rookie boss, Hignett does have experience of the Sky Bet Championship, having been Aitor Karanka's assistant at Middlesbrough before quitting Boro after a fall-out with the head coach.

The former Middlesbrough favourite is a popular man in Blackburn, following a happy spell in Lancashire, playing over 50 times for the club.

Hignett helped Rovers regain their Premiership status and won a League Cup winners medal in 2002 when he came off the bench in the 2-1 victory over Tottenham at the Millennium Stadium.

The 46-year-old's start at Victoria Park has not gone unnoticed.

He has won eight and drawn three of his 20 matches in charge, losing nine times.

His record would read even better but for the four straight defeats which Pools ended the season with.

Pools fans will be alarmed at the prospect of losing their new boss, though it is not a given Hignett would leave.

He has spoken of his love of the club and his working relationship with chairman Coxall, who employed him following the February sacking of Ronnie Moore.

Lambert quit Blackburn after just six months in charge, following the activation of a release clause in his contract.

The ex-Aston Villa boss only took over at Ewood Park last November, following the sacking of Gary Bowyer.

Lambert paid tribute to "a brilliant club" and thanked the owners, the Venkys, for their "tremendous backing."