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By ESPN Staff

'We won't be rushed' - Mort

Newcastle chairman Chris Mort has insisted the club would take their time to find the right manager after Harry Redknapp's withdrawal from the race to succeed Sam Allardyce.

Redknapp's decision to stay at Portsmouth after holding talks with Mort yesterday sent the Magpies back to the drawing board, although the chairman insists the 60-year-old was only one of a series of potential candidates.

In a statement released on the club's official website, www.nufc.co.uk, Mort said: 'In the process of appointing a new manager at Newcastle United, we have identified and spoken to a number of potential candidates.

'This is a very important appointment - our first since taking control of the club - and we will take as long as required to make sure we bring the right person.

'That person will be someone we believe will be able to deliver successful results and performances to accompany that.

'We can confirm that Harry Redknapp is one of the people the club has spoken to.

'However, Harry made it clear he is happy with life on the South Coast and we wish him well for the future.

'We will continue to devote our time to the very important task of selecting the right person to manage Newcastle United and we will make a further announcement when appropriate.'

Interestingly, Mort's job spec does not include the word 'experience', which ran through early briefings in the wake of Allardyce's departure on Wednesday evening.

That instantly ruled out fans' favourite Alan Shearer, who quickly leapt to the top of the betting pile once again after news of Redknapp's decision emerged this morning.

Fresh claims that the 37-year-old would take the job if offered it were circulating last night, although were given little credence with owner Mike Ashley have placed a proven track record at the top of his list of requirements.

However, speculation that Shearer could work alongside a more experienced man - the names of Kevin Keegan and Steve McClaren figure large in the most prominent rumours - was sweeping Tyneside today.

Perhaps more realistic are the claims of Blackburn's Mark Hughes - he insisted he was happy at Ewood Park yesterday, although that was when Redknapp's arrival looked a racing certainty - and the currently out-of-work Martin Jol and Jose Mourinho, with the Portuguese having been linked with the job at St James' Park even before Allardyce collected his cards.

Having seen their first attempt fail, Ashley and Mort will now step up their search knowing all the time that as the days slip by, so to do their new manager's chances of strengthening a squad depleted by the departures of Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye, Geremi and Obafemi Martins for the African Nations Cup in the winter transfer window.

Redknapp had reportedly been offered a £20million kitty, but Allardyce admitted as he planned his own recruitment drive that the best signings will be made during the first two weeks of the month.

The former Bolton boss returned to the club's training ground yesterday to say his goodbyes to the players before they set off for this evening's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United.

They will run out at Old Trafford themselves not knowing what the future holds as the turmoil goes on.

By contrast, Redknapp will head for the dug-out at the Stadium of Light tomorrow still wearing Pompey colours, and he is likely to be greeted as warmly by the Sunderland fans as by those of his own club as they revel in their arch-rivals' discomfort.