THE process of finding the next Hartlepool United manager is well underway.

Craig Hignett, the club’s caretaker manager and director of football, took taking training yesterday morning in between conducting interviews with candidates who want to replace Matthew Bates at the club.

Hignett, in charge for tomorrow’s game at Maidenhead, said: “We are right in the middle of it – speaking to candidates, taking our time, do our due diligence and get the right man in place.

“We have a shortlist, interviews are taking place and then we go away and find out as much information as we can about them to make sure we are making an informed decision.’’

Havant and Waterloo boss Lee Bradbury is the bookmaker’s favourite for the post – he is odds on with betvictor – and it has been reported his club has given permission for Pools to speak with the former Man City striker.

Bradbury, said to have flown to the North-East for an interview, was yesterday non-committal on Pools’ interest and said: “At the moment all I am concerned about is making sure the Hawks pick up three points on Saturday. I won't allow myself to get sidetracked. It is the only way I know to do the job. Since day one I have given 100 per cent to the cause and nothing has changed that.’’

Hignett admitted: “He is someone who has done really well at his club and in his managerial career, he ticks a lot of boxes and we want to speak to as many as we can and he would be one we are interested in.’’

Pools have had around 100 candidates for the post, with the applications being whittled down by chief executive Mark Maguire before Hignett and chairman Raj Singh work on the recruitment.

“The process is what we expect – I’ve been in enough interviews to know what to expect and we are doing this a little different,’’ admitted Hignett.

“We have a structure that someone has to fit into at our club and we have a set structure for someone to come in – the manager has to fit our infrastructure and system. From that point of view we are quite specific in what we want.’’

Hignett admitted last week he was not surprised by the quality of the hopefuls who were quick to approach the club.

He added: “We had no-one applying late, they were all in early. Over 100, but with the advert we put out we have had all kinds….

“It’s been good, we knew we were a good project for someone and we can be shaped by the next manager – he will get a chance to do that. I wanted Matty to grow at the club and improve and be here long-term.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t and it wasn’t just about results. Going forward we can measure others against that. We look at managers with a good CV and ask why they were only two years here. It’s no good getting someone in and then finding out six months later why they haven’t lasted.

“We love someone with experience of the league, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for this club, which is a bit different being out on a limb. We have to be a bit clever about it.’’