Ipswich Town hopeful of landing Paul Hurst – but do have back-up options

Paul Hurst's Shrewsbury Town are in the League One Play-Off Final on Sunday. Photo: PA

Paul Hurst's Shrewsbury Town are in the League One Play-Off Final on Sunday. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town are hopeful of landing Paul Hurst as their manager next week, but do have other irons in the fire.

It’s understood that Hurst – whose Shrewsbury side contest a League One Play-Off Final against Rotherham this Sunday – was very quickly identified as a leading contender for the job in the early stages of Marcus Evans’ search almost two months ago.

That’s why the Blues owner outlined ‘the end of May, early June’ as his timeline to appoint and has been willing to risk missing out on the other candidates who have impressed him in the meantime.

MORE: Town’s manager search is into day 57 – here’s how we got to this point

Town have been given assurances, via third party contact, that Hurst, 43, would be interested in discussing the position.

Both parties are keen to conduct business professionally and respectfully though and it was agreed a while back that no formal approach or interviews would take place until after this weekend’s game at Wembley.

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The EADT and Ipswich Star understands that close to 100 people – a combination of applicants and recommendations – were part of the initial phase of due diligence, with Evans instructing his trusted advisers and key contacts to gather as much information on candidates’ suitability for the role, potential interest and buy-out clauses.

MORE: Sunderland set to announce Jack Ross as manager today

The search eventually narrowed to younger, up-and-coming bosses who would be happy to work within the constraints of Evans’ five-point plan. It’s believed that eight have been interviewed for the job – including Jack Ross, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker and Tim Sherwood. And that three of them – Ross, Lampard and one other – have returned for a second interview.

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St Mirren manager Ross – who impressed, was very much in the running, but was never offered the job – now looks set to join recently-relegated League One club Sunderland. Lampard, contrary to reports, has not discussed terms or turned the job down.

One potential issue for Ipswich is that Championship rivals Derby County could now provide competition for Hurst. Lampard is the odds-on bookies’ favourites for the Rams, while ex-Town boss Mick McCarthy, England U19 manager Paul Simpson and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill have all been linked.

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Town do have other plans in place should a chain of unfortunate events sees primary targets all fall by the wayside.

It’s understood that as recently as the last fortnight, the employers and/or agents of Maurice Steijn (VVV Venlo), Darrell Clarke (Bristol Rovers) and Michael Appleton (Leicester City, assistant) have all been contacted, with previous enquiries having been made about Paul Cook (Wigan), Nathan Jones (Luton) and Paul Tisdale (Exeter).

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