Hartlepool United manager search enters final stages

Favourite for job: Sam Collins.
Favourite for job: Sam Collins.

Hartlepool United’s search for a manager to lead them out of the National League at the first time of asking is entering its final stages.

Interviews for the vacant position are under way with chairwoman/chief executive Pam Duxbury and head of recruitment, Paul Watson, leading the process at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

Former skipper and assistant manager, Sam Collins, has seen his odds slashed for the job.

SportMail revealed last week that the 39-year-old had applied for the position, having been sacked just two months earlier by Dave Jones.

Collins had initially been listed as a 16-1 shot by the bookmakers, who now have him at 1-5.

The ex-central defender spent almost a decade at the Vic and his close working relationship with the squad and staff would certainly make him a viable choice, especially with the retained list and recruitment key factors.

North-East lad Craig Harrison, now exiled in Wales, has moved out to second favourite at 12-1, having previously been 15-8.

The 38-year-old former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender is manager of TNS, Welsh Premier League champions for the last six seasons.

Matthew Bates, who was named interim boss for the final two matches of the season, remains third favourite though he too has seen his odds cool, going from 3-1 to 20-1.

The 30-year-old had been put in charge, alongside Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher after then-chairman Gary Coxall ended the three-month tenure of Jones following the 2-0 defeat by Barnet.

Former Tranmere boss Gary Brabin, who took Rovers to sixth last season in the National League is thought to have thrown his hat into the ring.

Two current National League bosses have been linked with the position, Barrow’s Paul Cox and John Askey, from Macclesfield Town.

Cox has enjoyed an excellent debut season at the Cumbrian club, though too many draws probably cost them a place in the play-offs.

Conversely, Askey probably needed more draws with the Silkmen, whose 20 wins was a fair record but they suffered too many defeats, 18.

It is a measure of how big a ‘draw’ Pools are that two bosses already well-established in the fifth tier are known to be interested in a switch to the Vic.

The name of former Pools boss and director of sport, Chris Turner, has also emerged in the last 24 hours.

Turner built the side which was taken to promotion by Mike Newell in 2003 and returned to the club as director of sport in 2006.

The ex-Sunderland and Man United keeper had another stint in charge of the team from December 2008, following the departure of promotion-winning boss Danny Wilson, before leaving the Vic less than two years later.

He joined Chesterfield as director of football in 2011, before switching to be director of football.

The 58-year-old was made redundant by the Spireites two months ago and his expertise across a variety of positions and love of Pools and the town could make him a late contender.