FORMER Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington is a surprise contender for the vacant job at League Two Rotherham United.
Worthington, who stepped down from his international position five months ago, will face stiff competition for the role from rivals including Mark Robins, Brian Laws and Phil Brown.
Worthington, 50 yesterday, is no stranger to the area after spending the majority of his playing career at Sheffield Wednesday.
His willingness to start again in League Two football, after four-and-a-half years on the international stage, will impress Millers chairman Tony Stewart.
However, during his time with Ireland, Worthington reportedly earned £450,000 a year so would need to take a massive drop in wages,
Although unable to steer Northern Ireland to either World Cup or Euro 2012 qualification, Worthington led Norwich City into the Premier League in 2004 and saved Leicester City from Championship relegation in 2007.
He started his managerial career in the lower leagues with Blackpool in the late Nineties and has worked in the England Under-21 set-up under Howard Wilkinson.
Millers chairman Stewart has been flooded with applications for the job since sacking Andy Scott on Monday afternoon.
He declined to comment on individuals last night but said he had been impressed by the ‘quality and volume’ of applications.
The Millers are currently eight points adrift of the League Two play-off zone and appear unlikely to win promotion this season with only nine games to play.
But Stewart is an ambitious chairman who backs managers in the transfer market and the club is about to move to the new 12,000-capacity New York Stadium this summer after four years ‘lodging’ at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium.
Stewart feels under no pressure to rush into a decision and is set to draw up a shortlist tomorrow before stepping up the interviewing process next week.
Former Millers manager Robins is currently odds-on favourite for the job with bookmakers and would be a popular choice with Millers supporters.
Although he walked out to join Barnsley three years ago, Robins had worked wonders for the club during a two-year reign that included a spell in administration.
Former Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley manager Laws is also keen on the job along with former Hull City manager Brown, who has been out of work since leaving Preston North End three months ago.
Assistant manager Darren Patterson took caretaker-charge for last night’s home game with Macclesfield Town and is likely to stay in command over the weekend.
Last night, Stewart said: “There is no panic and the most important thing now is that we get the right man for the job. I won’t be rushed into a decision and I don’t want anyone who might be interested to miss the boat.
“It is a job that should attract a lot of interest and we want a successful manager. We have a new stadium on the horizon and the investment is there to take us up the league.”
Match report: Page 23.