FORMER Middlesbrough defender Craig Harrison is back in the frame for the Hartlepool United job.

The Gateshead-born 39-year-old has been shortlisted for the job and is believed to have climbed to the top of the queue after Barrow's demands for a hefty compensation figure for Paul Cox.

Cox had been granted permission to speak with Pools - who are also set to sell Lewis Alessansdra to Notts County - but Barrow were seeking a five-figure sum to bring an end to the two years he has remaining on his contract.

Hartlepool withdrew their interest on the back of that and have turned their attentions to Harrison again, while ex-Pools striker Richie Barker was another strong alternative.

Barrow owner Paul Casson had hoped the 45-year-old would stay in the North-West even after the discussions with Hartlepool.

Casson said: “Hartlepool contacted me and asked me if it was okay to talk to him. I made it clear that we certainly didn't want him to leave and he is contracted to Barrow AFC for the next couple of years and we would not release him from his contract.

“But if they wanted to speak to him, it's a free country and they happily have my permission to speak to him. We certainly do not want to lose him.

“It would cost a significant amount of money for them to take him.”

Hartlepool are looking to cut costs following relegation from the Football League so the prospect of having to pay a sizeable fee for any manager would put them off as they search for Dave Jones’ successor.

Harrison is also under contract at New Saints, where he has enjoyed a successful five years spell in Wales. It is unclear at this stage if there would be any compensation issues.

Saints have won the Welsh Premier League title this season and the Nathaniel MG League Cup, they also broke Ajax's 44-year world record for the most consecutive wins with 27 straight victories.

Harrison's side missed out on a Welsh treble by losing to Bala Town in the Welsh Cup final in Bangor earlier this month.

Earlier this month he was asked about being linked with Hartlepool, Harrison said: “I’m only young. I’m 39-years-old, I’ve got a little bit of experience. I’ve got experience in the Champions League and I’ve just finished my UEFA Pro Licence. I am ambitious and I won’t hide that from anybody.

“I have had a pretty successful, good, short career as player and one thing that I do want, that I’m very passionate and hungry about, is to go on and make the best I can in my managerial career.

“That’s the situation whether it be anybody. It’s obviously nice it’s Hartlepool but it could be anybody. It could be next week, it could be two weeks, it could six months, it could be two years, it could be six years.

“I want to try and manage the highest levels I can and that’s what I want to do.”

Cox, meanwhile, was linked with Notts County last year and has been at Barrow since November 2015. He lifted them up to seventh in the National League after initially guiding them to 11th in his first year.

Barker, on the otyher hand, was recently named assistant manager at Rotherham to Paul Warne after leaving Charlton.

The 41-year-old spent two years during his playing days at Hartlepool between 2007-09. He managed Bury, Crawley and Portsmouth before going to MK Dons as an assistant in April 2014.

He had been with Charlton since December before leaving earlier this month. Former Tranmere and Southport boss Gary Brabin has also interested in Hartlepool.

Away from the managerial search, Hartlepool are ready to offload Alessandra. The wide-man is due for a medical at Notts County despite other interest from Port Vale after the two clubs agreed a fee.