Robert Page is a leading contender to become Sheffield United’s next manager.
The former Wales international, who made more than 100 appearances for the South Yorkshire club before joining Cardiff City in 2004, was recommended for the post after impressing with his work at League One rivals Port Vale.
Although the search for Danny Wilson’s replacement is taking place behind a veil of secrecy, The Star can reveal that United’s selection panel first met with Page before Motherwell’s Stuart McCall ended his interest in the role.
Gareth Southgate and Kenny Jackett have also discussed the vacancy with Bramall Lane’s hierarchy, but the race to succeed Wilson at the helm last night appeared a three-way fight between the 38-year-old, Chris Morgan and another as yet unidentified candidate.
Michael Appleton, previously of Blackburn Rovers, is among those known to have applied, together with Glyn Hodges.
Having spent nearly four weeks deliberating their next move, United are expected to make an announcement shortly.
Morgan, who took charge on an interim basis when Wilson parted company with United 52 days ago, secured his place on what was initially a five-man shortlist after delivering a frank assessment on the reasons behind their failure to reach the Championship immediately after the play-off semi-final defeat by Yeovil Town.
Page still lives in the region after finishing his playing career with Chesterfield and, like Morgan, emerged as a serious option long before McCall opted to remain at Fir Park.
Potential appointments have been told they must integrate graduates of the Redtooth Academy into a side bolstered by signings from the lower leagues as part of United’s bid to become what chief executive Julian Winter recently described as “a sustainable business”.
“What we need is a manager who can support the team and embrace young players,” he said.
“We need a player-developer and someone who is capable of improving players.”
Page, intially in charge of youth team affairs at Vale Park before being promoted to Micky Adams’ backroom staff, outlined his vision for the future at a second meeting earlier this week.