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McDonald in Carlisle running

Image: Neil McDonald: Could make Brunton Park return

Former manager Neil McDonald could return to Carlisle to succeed Graham Kavanagh seven years after his mysterious departure.

McDonald, 48, currently assistant to West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, was a guest in the directors' box at Brunton Park on Saturday to see the Cumbrians' 4-4 draw with AFC Wimbledon. Kavanagh was sacked earlier this month after less than a year in charge following Carlisle's winless start to the season. They were relegated to Sky Bet League Two in May. McDonald's possible return would be a controversial appointment given his puzzling departure from the club in 2007. The former Newcastle and Everton midfielder, who replaced Paul Simpson as manager at Brunton Park in June 2006, was sacked one game into the 2007-08 season with his contract terminated for non-footballing reasons without full explanation. Carlisle have yet to approach West Ham, it has been reported, for permission to enter talks with McDonald, who previously worked alongside Allardyce at Bolton and Blackburn. Cumbrians managing John Dixon is expected to interview candidates on the club's shortlist on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Former Rotherham and Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore, current Airbus UK boss Andy Preece and Huddersfield assistant Steve Thompson are understood to be in the running. The club's goalkeeping coach Tony Caig and skipper Paul Thirlwell were appointed caretakers following Kavanagh's departure and could still be in charge when Carlisle chase their first league win of the season at Bury on Saturday.

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