Former Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper and youth-team coach Kevin Blackwell could be set for a return to Home Park as the npower League Two club’s new manager.
The 54-year-old Blackwell, the boss of financially troubled Bury, is understood to be on the Pilgrims’ shortlist, with interviews expected to take place imminently.
Argyle are also thought to have targeted Keith Hill, who was sacked by Championship club Barnsley last Saturday, and former Chesterfield manager John Sheridan.
Hill, 43, was a centre-back for Argyle for four seasons after arriving from Blackburn Rovers in 1992, as part of a deal which took former Exeter City player Nicky Marker in the opposite direction.
Sheridan, the 48-year-old former Republic of Ireland international midfielder, was relieved of his duties at Chesterfield in August.
Former Hull City chief Phil Brown and Notts County first-team coach Colin Lee have also been linked with the Argyle vacancy, caused by the sacking of Carl Fletcher. Lee, the ex-Torquay United manager and chief executive, has publicly stated his interest in taking over at Home Park.
With Argyle facing a fight against relegation from League Two, the club’s power-brokers are aiming to make a managerial appointment early next week.
Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell have taken temporary charge of the first team after the departure of Fletcher. The Pilgrims are away to second-placed Port Vale in League Two tomorrow, amid speculation linking the Potteries club with Argyle’s transfer-listed centre-back Darren Purse.
Vale manager Micky Adams is trying to bolster his defence because experienced centre-back John McCombe has been ruled out for six weeks-plus by a medial ligament knee injury. Talks have taken place between Purse and Port Vale this week, it is believed.
Purse did not play in Argyle’s 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers on New Year’s Day because of a hamstring injury, but it is not considered to be a serious problem.
Blackwell managed Leeds United, Luton Town and Sheffield United before his appointment by Bury in September. They were bottom of League One at the time, and their results showed an improvement after his arrival. However, a transfer embargo was imposed on the Shakers in December after they received a short-term loan from the Professional, Footballers’ Association and they have not won since that happened, slipping to 22nd position in their division.
Blackwell was one of several signings made by Neil Warnock after he became Argyle manager in the summer of 1995. Blackwell went on to make 27 appearances for the Pilgrims, and also worked as the club’s youth-team coach.
After Warnock was sacked in 1997, his number two, Mick Jones, stepped up and he appointed Blackwell as his assistant. The pair were dismissed in the summer of 1998, after the Pilgrims were relegated to the bottom division of the Football League.
Blackwell took Leeds and Sheffield United to Championship play-off finals at Wembley, in 2006 and 2008 respectively, but his sides lost both of them.
Hill was sacked by Barnsley, with the South Yorkshire club bottom of the Championship, after a 3-1 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers.
Barnsley finished 21st in 2011-12, narrowly escaping relegation, in his first season as their manager. Hill had previously led Rochdale to promotion from League Two on a tight budget.
Sheridan was the boss of Oldham Athletic from 2006 to 2009, after a previous spell in caretaker charge. He was hired by Chesterfield in June 2009 and led them to the League Two title in 2010-11, but they went down last term. After picking up only two points from their first three league games this season, the Spireites put Sheridan on ‘gardening leave’, and he later left the club.