Hibs Under-20 coach James McDonaugh has been put on stand-by to take pre-season training as the hunt for a new boss at Easter Road continues to gather pace.
While chief executive Leeann Dempster leads that chase, the players will report back to their East Mains base on Monday to begin preparing for life in the Championship regardless of whether Terry Butcher’s replacement is in place.
Although Dempster has revealed more than 40 applications have been received for the vacancy, she has also insisted Hibs won’t be rushed into a decision, stressing the importance of ensuring the right man is identified to not only to mount a bid for a return to the top flight at the first time of asking – a formidable challenge given the presence of Rangers and Hearts – but to rebuild the club.
Dempster is understood to have spent the past couple of days in England talking to several candidates, with former Celtic defender Alan Stubbs the latest said to be interested in becoming the Capital club’s third manager in less than a year following the departure of Butcher and his predecessor Pat Fenlon.
Stubbs is youth coach at Everton but is anxious to strike out on his own and was actually interviewed for the vacancy at Goodison Park last summer.
Antonio Tapia has also applied for the Hibs job for a second time, with the 54-year-old Spaniard, one-time adviser to Manchester City manager Manuel Pelligrini, said to want Kenny Shiels as his assistant.
However, Mark Venus, the No 2 when Tony Mowbray was Hibs boss, remains the bookies’ favourite on a list also believed to include ex-Hibs star Ian Murray, boss of Dumbarton, Motherwell manager Stuart McCall, former Chelsea hitman Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Jonathan Hill, the former Manchester United academy coach.