Four men keen on becoming next Coleraine boss as Oran Kearney return not 'realistic'
Sam Allardyce's former assistant at West Ham and Blackburn Rovers Neil McDonald, plus ex-Hamilton Academical boss Martin Canning, are amongst the names interested in becoming the new Coleraine manager.
The Belfast Telegraph also understands that ex-Cliftonville chiefs Gerard Lyttle and Barry Gray would be keen on the post which became vacant earlier this month when Rodney McAree parted company with the Bannsiders.
Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry revealed that the quality of candidates who have applied so far has been 'very encouraging' and addressed suggestions that former boss Oran Kearney could be making a dramatic return to the Showgrounds.
Twelve months ago, Kearney - who tonight leads his St Mirren side into the first leg of their Scottish Premiership promotion/relegation play-off at Dundee United - and the Bannsiders were basking in the glory of winning the Irish Cup before the struggling Saints pounced for the 40-year-old in September.
A Coleraine comeback for Kearney would be welcomed by fans but McKendry does not feel it is realistic.
"The rumour mill has been flat out about Oran but he has not been contacted by Coleraine Football Club," said the Bannsiders chairman.
"I am very good friends with Oran but I have not asked him the question about coming home because I don't think it is realistic.
"Oran is on a substantial contract at St Mirren and how could Coleraine compete with that? Also, he has his hands full at the moment and if he keeps St Mirren up it will be a minor miracle considering how he found the club. It really will be testament to his managerial skills if he does it."
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Coleraine have been inundated with applications for the post which they plan to fill by the second week in June.
In the meantime, McKendry says coaching staff William Murphy, Trevor McKendry and Paul Owens have been working hard on pre-season and fitness schedules for the players.
Lyttle and Gray would relish a shot at leading the Bannsiders, who finished sixth last term after challenging for the title in the previous campaign. For McDonald and Canning, if successful, it would be a first foray into Irish League management.
Canning left Hamilton in January after four years as boss of the Scottish Premiership outfit, while much travelled ex-Newcastle and Everton defender McDonald was assistant manager at Swindon until last year.
Before that, McDonald was number two to former England boss Allardyce at Blackburn and West Ham and also worked with him at Bolton. He was also assistant to one-time Northern Ireland skipper Iain Dowie at Crystal Palace and managed Carlisle, Blackpool and Limerick as well.
On McAree's departure, the Coleraine chairman said: "The bar was set over two years prior to last season when unfortunately we fell below that.
"It was a tough decision to part company with Rodney. He is a great coach and well liked. Nobody felt good about making the decision but this is a results driven business.
"Going forward we want a manager not just to run the team but the club. We will look at budgets and won't be jeopardising the club, and I believe with the right man in charge, the future can be bright for Coleraine."