Nick Montgomery, who joined Sheffield United as a scholar and played almost 400 games for the Blades from 2000 to 2012, is on a five-man shortlist to become the next Hibernian manager, it is understood.
Montgomery left the Blades in 2012 and has since made a name for himself as a manager in Australia, recently guiding Central Coast Mariners to the A-League title.
Hibs have received permission from the A-League champions to hold talks with the 42-year-old former Scotland Under-21 international.
But reports in Australia claiming that Montgomery has already been selected as successor to Lee Johnson – who was dismissed after Hibs were dumped out of the Europa Conference League qualifiers by Aston Villa – are premature.
Hibs have spoken to two candidates and plan talks with three more this week, including Montgomery.
Leeds-born Montgomery initially moved to Mariners as a player in 2012 after his long spell with Sheffield United.
He has been captain, assistant coach, youth coach and head of football at the club before taking over as head coach in August 2021.
Montgomery led Mariners to their second A-League Grand Final success with the help of a hat-trick from former Hibs striker Jason Cummings in a 6-1 triumph over Melbourne City in June. Recent Aberdeen signing James McGarry was also in the team.
Other players he has coached include Hibs full-back Lewis Miller, Kye Rowles of Hearts and former Tynecastle loan striker Garang Kuol.
Mariners owner Richard Peil last year claimed Motherwell had expressed interest in Montgomery before appointing Steven Hammell as manager.
Peil told Australian media outlet ftbl.com.au in August last year that Montgomery was destined for England’s top flight.
He said: “Monty knows we are on a three-year plan and I was never going to let him go. We were pleased by their approach because it shows what Monty and (assistant) Sergio Raimundo are doing here is something special.
“But I was always going to fight tooth and nail to keep him in Australia. I never had any intention of supporting him going to the SPL.
“He’ll coach in the EPL at some point. It’s just a matter of time. He’s a young coach, and like he tells all our players, you have to be patient and go through the process.
“I’m sure this will be the first of many approaches for him over the next few years.”
Johnson lost his job after Hibs lost their opening three cinch Premiership games and suffered a 5-0 home defeat against Aston Villa in the Europa Conference League play-offs.
Former skipper David Gray led the club to a 2-0 league win at Aberdeen on Sunday in his third spell as caretaker manager.
Former Hibs manager Neil Lennon has been among the favourites for the role and had declared himself open to discussions.