Paul Tisdale in the frame for Swindon Town vacancy
Exeter City were yesterday preparing as normal for tonight's npower League Two trip to high-flying Port Vale, despite speculation linking manager Paul Tisdale with the vacant managerial role at Swindon Town.
The Robins are on the look-out for a new boss after controversial Italian Paolo Di Canio walked out on the club last week, and Tisdale has been installed as the favourite to succeed him by leading bookmakers.
Last week, the City chief was 20-1 to succeed Di Canio, but last night those odds were as short as 5-4. The word from the Devon club, though, was that no approach had been made and Tisdale's focus was on tonight's trip to Vale Park.
"The case is still that there has been no contact – nothing, nil, zip, zilch," vice-chairman and chief executive Julian Tagg said.
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"I am still surprised about the speculation because Paul has proved time after time that he is committed to the club and the long-term planning that he talks about often.
"Paul has shown in the past that is doing an exceptional job here and is a very talented manager – talented and loyal.
"I speak to Paul all the time about things like this regularly but we speak more often about the young players coming through at the club and what can be achieved here than speculating about other jobs."
The Robins, who are second in League One, were last week taken over by a local consortium led by Banbury United owner Jed McCrory. He, along with Steve Murrall, Gary Hooper and Callum Rice, bought 99 per cent of the shareholding in the Wiltshire club from Andrew Black.
The new owners spoke at a press conference yesterday and McCrory said that no approach had been made for a manager, but any new man would have "significant funds" at his disposal.
Tisdale has remained loyal to Exeter in the past when Southampton and Swansea City sought his services and, with the Grecians involved in a promotion battle of their own, it would take a lot to tempt him to walk away from St James' Park mid-season.
The 40-year-old has been in charge of Exeter since the summer of 2006, and can lay claim to being the most successful manager in the club's history. His first season in charge ended with a Wembley defeat in the Nationwide Conference play-off final to Morecambe, but 12 months later he led Exeter back to Wembley, where they beat Cambridge United to reclaim their place in the Football League.
Tisdale then guided the Grecians to promotion from League Two after finishing as runners-up and, after achieving League One survival with a dramatic 2-1 victory against Huddersfield Town on the final day of the 2009-10 campaign, he led Exeter to their best ever post-war finish of eighth in League One in 2011.
However, Exeter were relegated from English football's third tier last May, but are in with a chance of an immediate return, with the club currently seventh and occupying the last of the play-offs spots.
Tonight, the Grecians will look to maintain their place amongst the promotion-chasing pack with a trip to a Port Vale side who are second and some 11 points clear of the Grecians.
Tisdale said: "There is a long way to go, so who knows if they can be caught? We are in a league where anyone can beat anyone on any given day and it looks unlikely after Saturday, when they gained three points on us and we lost three points, so that was a big turnaround, but, as I say, anyone can beat anyone.
"We seem to have a mixed bag against the top teams away from home. We have conceded three and four against Cheltenham, Northampton and Burton and yet we have beaten Gillingham.
"I am hoping it will be another day like when we won at Gillingham, or how we played at Southend, although we lost that day. I am hoping we can find a performance and there is no reason why we can't."
The Grecians have no fresh injuries following their 4-2 defeat at Burton Albion on Saturday, and Tisdale also hopes to have goalkeeper Artur Krysiak available again after he missed the weekend loss through injury.
Rhys Evans deputised, but with 23-year-old Krysiak in such good form right now, Tisdale is hoping to have him fit tonight.
"I don't think I can blame Rhys for any of the goals on Saturday – I haven't seen them closely, but I don't think he was responsible for that – and it was hard for him to come in and concede four goals, but it will be nice to have Artur back for selection," Tisdale said. "He has been in terrific form over the last couple of months.
"He trained on Thursday and again en route to Burton on Friday, but he didn't quite make it. He was very close."
Krysiak is in the best form of his Exeter career right now, but missed out on playing at his former employers after injuring his leg in the 2-0 win over Accrington Stanley.
That led to him going off at half-time, with Evans taking over between the sticks, but, such has been the improvement in the Pole's game, he has become one of the first names on the Exeter team-sheet.
"I am well aware of what was said about Artur last year and in the summer, but I had no doubts he would be a very good goalkeeper. I am not surprised he is doing better, because I expected it," Tisdale said.
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Evans; Tully, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Oakley, Cureton, Davies, Doherty, Amankwaah, O'Flynn, Bauza, Keohane, Molesley, Dawson, Moore-Taylor, Gosling, Jagger-Cane, Micklewright, Roper.
Unavailable: Sercombe (ankle), Gow (ankle), Anderson (unknown).