Former Kettering and Peterborough manager Mark Cooper has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Steve Staunton at Darlington.

Cooper watched Darlington lose their 27th league game of the season on Tuesday against Aldershot and it is understood he had held talks with Quakers chairman Raj Singh.

Singh wants to install a replacement for Staunton, sacked last Sunday after less than six months in the job, as soon as possible to give the new man 10 games to assess players in time for next season, which will almost definitely be a promotion challenge from the Blue Square Premier.

Cooper, who steered Kettering to promotion from the Blue Square South division, was sacked by Peterborough after less than two months at the helm in February and is keen to get straight back into employment.

However, Singh is reported to have also interviewed several other candidates, with Simon Davey, Gary Johnson, Russell Slade, Curtis Fleming, Mick Tait and former Darlington captain Kevan Smith all linked with the job.

Academy head coach Craig Liddle and academy manager Neil Maddison will take charge of the club for Saturday's clash at Shrewsbury.

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