STEPHEN ROBINSON, the Motherwell manager, and Jack Ross, the former St Mirren and Sunderland head coach, were tonight installed as the front runners to take over at Hearts after Craig Levein was sacked.

The Tynecastle club yesterday revealed that Levein, whose side slipped to second bottom in the Ladbrokes Premiership when they lost 1-0 to St Johnstone in Perth on Wednesday night, had been relieved of his duties.

Austin MacPhee, his assistant, will take charge of the capital club on an interim basis, including in the Betfred Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden on Sunday, until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Ross, who was sacked by Sunderland last month after a year and a half in charge, immediately became the bookmakers’ favourite for the vacancy. He spent a year on the coaching staff at Tynecastle before taking over at Alloa in 2015.

READ MORE: Craig Levein sacked as Hearts manager

Robinson, who led the Fir Park club to two cup finals in the 2017/18 season and whose side are currently third in the top flight, has also been linked with the position.

Elsewhere, MacPhee, who has been on the Northern Ireland coaching staff for the last five years, has been tipped to step up. Gary Holt, the Livingston manager, is another contender.

Hearts announced that Levein, who took over as manager in August 2017 after Ian Cathro had been sacked, wouldn’t return to his director of football role and would stand down from the board.

However, a statement on the club’s website revealed the 55-year-old would see out his contract, which runs until the end of the season, and work with the executive management team to “develop and improve the structure of the backroom and youth operations”.