STEVE GIBSON will spend the weekend pondering his managerial options after a week of sounding out candidates, and is set to hone in on his preferred choice to succeed Tony Pulis in the next seven days.

The Middlesbrough chairman is adopting a hands-on approach to the search for Pulis’ successor, with the appointment of the club’s next manager set to form part of a much wider overhaul that has already resulted in the departure of a number of backroom employees.

Slavisa Jokanovic and Jonathan Woodgate have both had formal interviews this week, and Middlesbrough officials are also understood to have spoken to Aston Villa assistant head coach John Terry.

Paul Heckingbottom is another leading contender, but Boro are not expected to pursue an interest in either Chris Hughton or Danny Cowley, who were both touted as candidates at the start of the week.

Michael Reiziger has shortened significantly in the bookmakers' markets today, but the former Boro defender, who is currently the reserve-team coach at Ajax, has not had a formal interview at this stage.

Jokanovic met a senior Boro delegation in London to outline his vision for guiding Middlesbrough back to the Premier League.

The Serbian boasts an impressive record in the Championship, having guided both Watford and Fulham to promotion, and is currently out of work, with his most recent job at Craven Cottage having come to an end in November.

He is the most experienced candidate on Boro’s shortlist, but his financial demands, both in terms of a basic salary and a kitty for this summer’s transfer window, could prove problematic. Boro’s financial wriggle-room is limited with their Premier League parachute payments having expired, with Gibson adamant he is not willing to breach the Football League’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

Both Woodgate and Terry would represent more of a gamble, although there is an understandable temptation to head in a new direction after the appointments of Garry Monk and Pulis both ended in failure.

Woodgate has been interviewed to ascertain whether he is ready to step into frontline management, with his lifelong links to Teesside sure to be an important consideration in any final decision.

The former centre-half is an extremely popular figure within the Rockliffe Hall training ground, with his recent coaching experience having enabled him to develop a bond with Boro’s senior squad as well as members of the academy set-up.

Gibson has not been afraid to offer a step up the coaching ladder in the past, with Bryan Robson, Steve McClaren and Aitor Karanka all having enjoyed success with Boro in their first senior management position. Gareth Southgate’s promotion from the playing ranks was not so successful, although the current England boss had no coaching experience at all when he succeeded McClaren.

Terry is at a similar stage of his coaching development to Woodgate, having been appointed as the assistant head coach at Villa Park when Dean Smith took charge of Aston Villa last October.

Terry has spent this week helping to prepare the Villa side for Monday’s Championship play-off final with Derby County, but broke off from his work in the West Midlands to have a discussion with senior Boro officials.

Heckingbottom is currently employed as the boss of Scottish Premier League side Hibernian, but the 41-year-old established a strong reputation in England thanks to his work with Barnsley.

A brief spell at Leeds United did not really work out – he was heavily linked with a move to Sunderland before opting for Elland Road – but he is understood to have his supporters within the corridors of power at Boro.

Cowley was touted as a leading contender at the start of the week, but the Lincoln boss has not had any contact with anyone from the North-East.

“We have not had any official communication from any club,” said Cowley, who has also been linked with the managerial vacancy at West Brom. “There will always be a level of speculation, and I think with social media it gets magnified and exaggerated in equal measure."