Town set to call for leading contenders

HIBERNIAN'S Rod Petrie and Colchester United's Peter Heard will be getting the phone calls they have been dreading today when Ipswich Town come calling for their managers.

By Derek Davis

HIBERNIAN'S Rod Petrie and Colchester United's Peter Heard will be getting the phone calls they have been dreading today when Ipswich Town come calling for their managers.

Tony Mowbray and Phil Parkinson are high on the list of candidates for the vacant post at Portman Road but face stiff competition from around 40 other serious applicants.

Chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden will sift through applicants today and draw up an initial short-list.

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If the people they have earmarked are not among those applicants, calls will be made to ascertain whether they are interested in attending an interview.

Permission will be sought from the clubs to speak to those managers who are currently employed and the EADT understands Hibernian and Colchester United are among a limited number of clubs, which may include Luton Town, that will be contacted within the next 36 hours.

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A first interview will be conducted by Sheepshanks and Bowden and the candidates whittled down.

A second interview stage will be held with the board and if necessary a third and final interview between the final two candidates.

Sheepshanks last night told the EADT: “We have had nearly 40 serious applicants and there have been one or two surprising candidates among them.

“The next step is for the board to agree in principle the profile of the ideal candidate and we will take it from there. At this stage we are ruling everyone in before ruling anyone out.”

It is looking increasingly likely that Mowbray will not be offered the job at Middlesbrough even though he is clearly the fans' choice.

It is understood that Boro chairman Steve Gibson is looking for a higher-profile manager - and that Alan Curbishley, Iain Dowie, Terry Venables, or less likely now, Martin O'Neill, fit that bill. The brief is to work with Gareth Southgate and Colin Cooper and Gibson may consider Mowbray not quite ready just yet but success at a second tier English club would hold him in good stead for the future.

One manager who could join Jim Magilton in dropping out of the battle is Terry Butcher, who faces an incredible dilemma.

The former Blues and England skipper is today expected to decide between accepting a £350,000 post with top Australian side Sydney FC or return to England and take his chances in the Town's selection process.

Butcher's cause has been helped by Sir Bobby Robson, who has given Ipswich a personal endorsement but Sheepshanks is adamant that Town will go through a thorough selection process before making the appointment.

Derby County's Terry Westley is known to be interested even though he has been turned down at Pride Park for the post of permanent manager after ensuring they scrapped to survival in the Championship as their caretaker manager.

Westley has been offered his old job as Academy director with Derby but is keen to step up once more.

Ian Holloway could also drop out of the reckoning in the next couple of days as he is set for a second interview with Milwall and could be installed at the New Den this week.

Among those unlikely to figure is Alan Curbishley, who was earning around £1.2m a year at Charlton.

He has said he wants a break from football for a while. Even if he was looking for a quick comeback it is unlikely Ipswich would be his destination, although it is clear he likes Town's players.

Preston boss Billy Davies has been approached by a third party to see if he would be interested in applying but he seems close to securing the Hearts job, and anyway his compensation package and personal terms would be far too rich for the Blues.

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