Hignett leaves Hartlepool United for Middlesbrough

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HARTLEPOOL United were today looking for a new assistant manager after the shock departure of Craig Hignett to Middlesbrough to become Aitor Karanka’s Number 2.

The 44-year-old handed in his notice late yesterday afternoon and within hours he was at the Riverside Stadium alongside his new boss Karanka watching the Boro under-21s in action against Aston Villa.

The former Boro favourite joined Pools last summer as assistant to Colin Cooper but has left the Clarence Road club after just nine months in the post.

Pools have confirmed Hignett will not be working his notice period and has immediately taken up the role of assistant head coach at Boro.

Spaniard Karanka had been searching for a right-hand man since taking over at the club in October and it was confirmed last night Hignett is that man.

His departure from Victoria Park is a heavy blow for Cooper, now looking to replace the popular Scouser, with several names already in the frame.

Pools defender Sam Collins, 36, has been helping out with the reserves this season and could be a contender although he is also back in the first-team and performing well alongside Christian Burgess.

Other names that could interest Cooper include former Boro team-mate Neil Maddison, currently working as a Boro summariser on local radio, while former Boro caretaker manager Mark Venus could also be in the frame.

Cooper is unlikely to want to rush into a decision but he may not have much choice with just over two months of the season left.

If the club were looking for a stop-gap measure they could look to Nick Barmby, dad of on-loan Manchester United forward Jack, who has been a regular at the Vic recently and has coaching experience.

Dean Saunders and Stuart Pearce are both experienced managers currently out of work and former Nottingham Forest team-mates of Cooper.

But whether they’d be willing to drop down to a Number 2 position is highly unlikely, although it could be a short-term option.

While a blow for Pools, the capture of Hignett is a boost for Boro, where he enjoyed the best years of his career between 1992 and 1998.

It was an eventful six years on Teesside which included two promotions and an appearance in both the FA Cup Final and the League Cup Final in 1996-97, scoring the first ever goal at the Riverside Stadium as well.