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NI coach and three Northern Irishmen among favourites to land Hearts job as Cathro sacked

You can get odds on four men with NI links taking over as Hearts Head Coach

By Gareth Hanna

Hearts have dismissed Head Coach Ian Cathro after only eight months in charge and there are a few Northern Irishmen and one NI coach being tipped to replace him.

The 31 year-old had guided his side to only eight wins in 30 games at the helm and faced the wrath of supporters on Saturday as they crashed out of the Betfred Cup group stages care of defeat to League Two side Peterhead and a draw with Championship team Dunfermline.

Director of Football Craig Levein confirmed Cathro will leave with immediate effect and that means Northern Ireland Assistant Manager Austin MacPhee will take temporary charge, along with youth coaches Jon Daly and Liam Fox. They will have plenty of work to do as Hearts travel to Celtic Park for the league opener on Saturday.

Northern Ireland forward Kyle Lafferty, of course, signed for the club earlier this summer and has already netted a hat-trick against East Fife and scored against Peterhead.

He could well soon be playing under someone he knows very well as MacPhee is one of two men with NI connections tipped among the favourites to succeed Cathro on a permanent basis. The other is St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright and there are two other Northern Irishmen among the outsiders.

But how good are their credentials?

Austin MacPhee (14/1)

The 37 year-old Scot has had little practice in management but could now get his break after a decade of coaching experience. He had been 7/1 and is now out to 14/1 after Jon Daly was moved in to 1/5 favourite. MacPhee has held one Head Coach role, at Cupar Hearts in 2007/08 and just one season was enough to land the Fife Amateur Cup and a Scottish Amateur Cup final spot. He has held Assistant Manager roles at Cowdenbeath and St Mirren before taking over as Michael O'Neill's NI assistant in 2014 and playing a key role in qualification for Euro 2016. He took over as Cathro's Assistant at Hearts in December and has continued his job with the Northern Ireland national team.

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New challenge: Austin MacPhee was unveiled as Hearts assistant boss at Tynecastle yesterday but will remain with Northern Ireland

Tommy Wright (14/1)

With a greater level of management experience, Tommy Wright was 6/1 to take over the Hearts role, although he is now out to 14/1. He is most famous for helping current club St Johnstone to Scottish Cup success in 2014. He has held the top job at the club since being promoted from assistant in 2013. He was also voted Scottish Premiership Manager of the Season for 15/16 and has now guided the club to three successive fourth placed finishes.

During his time as a manager in Northern Ireland, Wright guided Lisburn Distillery to Irish League Cup glory in 2011, shortly before leaving to join St Johnstone as Steve Lomas' assistant.

St. Johnstone Manager Tommy Wright. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Andy Kirk (20/1)

The 11 times capped former NI player has coaching experience with Rangers Academy and with Hearts U17s. He even took interim charge with Jon Daly in December before Cathro's appointment. He is the son of former Lisburn Distillery manager Paul Kirk.

Andy Kirk.

Michael O'Neill (20/1)

Ha. Dream on.

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Michael O'Neill has led Northern Ireland to their highest ever world ranking

The Rest of the Candidates

William Hill have slashed the odds on current U20 coach Jon Daly from 10/1 to 1/5 favourite. That has knocked everybody else out. Director of Football Craig Levein is 10/1 to take the job himself, along with former Hearts star Paul Hartley, who could take his third management job after spells with Alloa and Dundee. Ex club captain Steven Pressley is at 16/1. He is out of a job after leaving Fleetwood Town one year ago and certainly knows the club.

ODDS: 1/5 Jon Daly; 10/1 Craig Levein; 10/1 Paul Hartley; 14/1 Tommy Wright; 14/1 Austin MacPhee; 16/1 Steven Pressley; 20/1 Michael O'Neill; 20/1 Andy Kirk; 20/1 Rudi Skacel; 20/1 Owen Coyle; 20/1 Paolo Sergio; 20/1 Mark McGhee; 20/1 Jack Ross; 20/1 Stephen Aitken; 20/1 Jim McIntyre; 20/1 Peter Houston; 25/1 Gary Mackay

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