Darrell Clarke flattered by Hartlepool United link

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FORMER Hartlepool United favourite Darrell Clarke admits he is “flattered” to be leading the betting market in the race to succeed Neale Cooper.

The 34-year-old is now at the helm of Conference South side Salisbury City, having last season masterminded a promotion campaign.

Clarke is currently the 3/1 favourite to be installed as the next boss at Victoria Park, where he played between 2001 and 2007.

“I had a brilliant six years there,” said Clarke, whose Salisbury side are currently top of the league and headed for the Conference.

“And it’s flattering to be linked with going back as manager because I still have a great affection for the club. I look at the situation they’re in now and it’s not nice to see.

“They obviously need to pick up and do it quick if they’re going to survive.

“But I’m sure if everyone rallies together and pulls in the same direction then they can get out of it.”

Clarke could be interested in being the man who leads Pools’ fight against relegation from League One, although he admits to being happy with his current player-manager post.

“I’ve got a very small squad here and a lot of young lads – but they’re a brilliant bunch and have done wonders for me,” added the Mansfield-born boss.

“I’ve had a great time here as manager these past couple of years. We’re five points clear at the top now and we’re in there challenging.”

He went on: “I thoroughly enjoy management and I feel I’ve taken to it well.

“I’m strong on the discipline side of things and I believe in training hard and playing hard. We’ve got a great spirit here and you need that.

“But at the same time we’ve got good organisation and do a lot of work on the training pitch. That’s why we are where we are right now.”

Clarke would be a popular choice among supporters, as would another former Poolie, Phil Brown.

Brown was in for the manager’s position at former club Bolton Wanderers before Dougie Freedman’s appointment this week. The South Shields-born 53-year-old is looking for an avenue back into management and a return to the Vic could appeal to him.