CRAIG Hignett is the early favourite for the Hartlepool United job.
But the man himself says he plans to think “very carefully” before deciding what his next move in football will be.
Pools are without a manager after Paul Murray and assistant Willie Donachie left their posts following last night’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Blyth Spartans.
Hignett only left his job as assistant head coach at Boro on Tuesday following a fall-out with boss Aitor Karanka.
The 44-year-old is flattered to be linked with Pools, who he played for in the club’s last promotion season, and where he was assistant manager last season.
Hignett was rated highly as a coach at Victoria Park where he worked alongside Colin Cooper.
When he left, Pools were ninth in League Two and only five points outside the play-offs.
However, the popular Scouser, speaking exclusively to SportMail, says while he is keen to get back into management and coaching, he plans to think long and hard about his “next step”
“I have just left Middlesbrough,” he said.
“I was very happy at Pools and working alongside Colin but I got a job I could not turn down.
“I have got to weigh up what is right for me.
“If I am going to take the next step it has got to be the right one for me.
“It’s early days for me, I have only just left Boro a few days ago.
“Football is my life, it is all I have known, and it is what I want to do, so I have to think about things very carefully.
“I have had two jobs [in coaching] and they have gone really well.
“I loved working with Coops, someone I like and have massive respect for.
“Then I went to Boro and I think everyone knows what the club means to me.
“I have really enjoyed those jobs,”
Hignett is unlikely to be out of work for long - a look at the statistics at both Pools and Boro would point that he has much to offer.
“I know what I can do and I am confident in my ability,” he added.
“But I need to decide what I want to do next.”