Mark Maguire has stressed Chester have a ‘key decision’ to make for the future of the football club as they draw up a shortlist for their next manager.

The Blues have received a ‘strong list’ of 120 applicants for the vacant role, chief executive Maguire confirmed, with the board set to spend Thursday narrowing down the candidates ahead of next week’s interviews, which are set to take place on Monday.

Chester hope to appoint Jon McCarthy’s successor by the middle of next week, with the likes of Marcus Bignot, Kevin Davies, Ronnie Moore and Steve Watson, pictured above, understood to have applied for the job, while it remains to be seen whether former Chester City legend and bookmakers’ favourite Graham Barrow has thrown his hat into the ring.

“The calibre of applicants has been extremely positive and it tells us that people are viewing the Chester job as an attractive one,” explained Maguire.

“We’ve had over 120 serious applications – as well as plenty of Football Manager ones! – and it’s a really strong list of potential managers we now have the opportunity to look at.

“It’s a tough decision moving forward and a key decision for the football club.

“We’ve already made a good start on going through applications as we travelled to Gateshead on Tuesday night.

“Interviews will take place at the start of next week with the intention still to have the new manager in place by the middle of next week.”

Maguire also moved to praise ‘magnificent’ caretaker manager Tom Shaw, who he believes has conducted himself in ‘superb’ fashion since being tasked with leading the Blues for three matches, culminating in Saturday’s long trip to Dover Athletic.

“In a tough week last week, followed by a challenging week now, Tom’s response has been magnificent,” he added.

“Tom has shown respect for what has gone before him whilst also stamping his own ideas on the team.

“He’s got his own ideas and I think the players have responded positively to that. The way he has handled himself around the club, on matchdays, with the press, with the fans, has been absolutely superb.

“We’re very grateful to have him at the club going forward and although this job has come too soon for him but I’m sure he’s got a big future as a coach and a manager.”