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Jefferies welcomes Hibernian link

Former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies is not averse to the idea of taking charge of Edinburgh rivals Hibernian, insisting he views their reported interest in him as a "compliment".

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Jefferies, 60, has strong ties to Hearts having played for the club for 14 years and managed them for six, but he has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Colin Calderwood at Easter Road after his sacking on Sunday.

A move to Hibernian would be highly controversial and would likely have little support from fans either side of the Edinburgh football divide - though early polls do in fact show that up to £50% of Hibs fans would welcome his appointment.

Easter Road legend Pat Stanton has already proffered his support for Jefferies to step into the hotseat, and while the former Hearts chief admits he is "surprised" by Hibs' interest, he refused to rule himself out of the race.

"I'm surprised," Jefferies said. "Pat Stanton has come out and said a lot of kind things and since then it's just grown.

"I believe the chairman of the supporters' association has said the people are 50-50. I can't believe that given the rivalry but it's a compliment."

Hibs chairman Rod Petrie told shareholders at the club's AGM on Tuesday that he had received 40 applications for the post vacated by Calderwood.

Billy Brown is caretaker in the meantime, while Jefferies and former Hibs midfielder Michael O'Neill, manager of Shamrock Rovers, are believed to be the early frontrunners.

Petrie said: "The recruitment of a new manager is underway. We hope that our players will respond to a fresh start. The club gave Colin Calderwood the chance to succeed but it came to the point where we had to act decisively.

"I think that it is right that we take our time and look afresh at the recruitment process. This will be led by Scott and by Fife. As before, we will speak to knowledgeable people within football to help us make the appointment.

"We will all utilise our wide network of contacts in the game to make sure we have a rounded perspective of the potential candidates. But at the end of the day, the next manager will be appointed by the board of directors.''

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