DARLINGTON have whittled down their managerial candidates to a seven-man shortlist and interviews begin today.

They have been without a boss since Martin Gray resigned at the beginning of last week, and Quakers have received 40 applications for the post of first-team manager.

Seven managers will be interviewed across today and tomorrow, running into the weekend if required, with chief executive David Johnston speaking to candidates along with club director John Tempest and Joanne Cameron, who is vice-chair of the Darlington FC Supporters Group.

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“We’ve got a very strong shortlist,” said Johnston. “It includes people with Football League, National League and local league experience.

“We’re looking forward to the process.

“We’ve got people who have operated at different levels. We’re looking for someone who understands what it is to manage Darlington Football Club.

“We’re very keen that they understand there’s budget requirements to work within, it’s a fan-owned club, we want to ensure that the people we bring to the table are of the right behavioural characteristics and have a good track record.”

Whitby Town’s Chris Hardy is the choice of some Darlington supporters, although there is no indication he has applied, while it is understood former Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett and ex-York boss Gary Mills are interested in the role.

Meanwhile, the ramifications of Gray’s departure have continued this week with assistant kitman Brad Blythe having to leave his position with Darlington as he also works for the Martin Gray Football Academy.

Gray becoming boss at another football club, namely York City, created a conflict of interest, as spelled out in Football Association rules, and resulted in Brian Atkinson and Sean Gregan being unable to become Quakers’ joint-managers.

However, Gary Smith will remain in his role as kitman as he is not employed by the MGFA.

Johnston is endeavouring to sever all ties with the MGFA, a process which may take weeks to resolve while the club seeks advice and clarification from the National League on its position.

He plans to make a statement soon on the future of Darlington’s under-19s team, who this week saw their game at Halifax Town postponed.