Search for new manager begins

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HARTLEPOOL United will today invite applications for their vacant managerial position.

As was the case 11 months ago in the wake of Mick Wadsworth’s departure as first-team coach, the Pools hierarchy will not be rushed in appointing a successor to Neale Cooper.

And there will be no shortage of candidates bidding to replace the Scot, who yesterday stood down as manager with Pools bottom of League One and without a win in 12 matches.

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Micky Barron, like he did following Wadsworth’s exit, will take temporary care of first-team affairs, although SportMail understands he is unlikely to be given the role on a permanent basis despite being installed by bookmakers as the early favourite.

Former Darlington chief Dave Penney – out of work since being sacked by Bristol Rovers last year – is thought to be interested and he is a friend of Pools chief executive Russ Green.

Penney’s was one of several names thrown into the hat before Cooper’s arrival in late December and many of the same faces are being linked this time around.

Brian Laws, recently involved with Shamrock Rovers, former Pools defender Phil Brown and Middlesbrough coach Mark Venus are all again in the frame.

New names to emerge include Sean Dyche, harshly relieved of his duties by Watford’s new owners following a decent campaign last season, Gary Megson, sacked by Sheffield Wednesday last term, former England midfielder Paul Ince and ex-Newcastle United director of football Dennis Wise.

Another candidate with Tyneside connections is Alan Thompson.

The former Pools loanee was reserve-team boss at St.James’ Park before becoming assistant to Neil Lennon at Celtic.

That relationship broke down during the summer and Newcastle-based Thompson is thought to be interested in a managerial role.

Another Pools old boy and former second-string coach with The Magpies is Peter Beardsley.

And the England legend could well be tempted away from Gallowgate for a crack at management.

Other potential applicants are likely to include ex-Poolies Darrell Clarke and Tommy Widdrington, both now in charge of non-league outfits.

Clarke, still just 34 years old, guided Salisbury City to promotion to the Conference South last season, while Widdrington operates in the same division with Eastbourne Borough.

Chairman Ken Hodcroft oversaw a stringent interview process in the search for Wadsworth’s replacement and a similar scenario is expected to unfold over coming weeks.

That means Barron is almost certain to remain in charge until at least next weekend’s FA Cup First Round trip to Chesterfield.

First he will today take training at Maiden Castle in preparation for Saturday’s League One clash at Brentford, incidentally the venue at which he took charge of his first game in the caretaker role last season.

Hodcroft has insisted that Barron and his playing squad be left to concentrate on that capital clash and so no further comment is expected from within the club until Saturday tea-time.