Curry and red wine are back on the menu for Mark Lillis.

While new Town boss Chris Powell makes the final preparations for his first match at home to Middlesbrough this afternoon, Lillis, the club’s academy chief who has just had his third spell as stand-in manager, is keeping tabs on the Under 18s, who visit Colchester United for their latest Professional Development League game.

The 54-year-old teamed up with Steve Thompson and Steve Eyre to play a key role in steadying the ship as chairman Dean Hoyle, chief executive Nigel Clibbens and football operations director Ross Wilson went through the recruitment process which brought former Charlton Athletic manager Powell to West Yorkshire.

It was his third and lengthiest spell at the helm after taking on the interim role after the departures of Lee Clark early in 2012, and Simon Grayson a year later.

The high spot was the 2-1 win at Reading which bought the board valuable time in the search for Mark Robins’ replacement.

 

“It was hard work, but I enjoyed it, and that night at Reading was one of my best in football,” said Lillis, who is in his third Town stint after being a player, then youth coach.

The Lancastrian is a seasoned campaigner, having also played for Manchester City, Derby County, Aston Villa, Scunthorpe United, Stockport County and Macclesfield Town, managed Halifax Town and also coached for Macclesfield, Scunthorpe, Derby, Stockport, Morecambe and Northern Ireland.

But he says he has learned plenty during his latest period back in the dug-out.

“It was a great experience, and you can’t get enough of that in any walk of life,” he added.

“I think the chairman saw another side to me, and it was great to play a part in our recovery from a very difficult start to the season.

“We don’t ever want another opening day like that (4-0) defeat at home to Bournemouth which led to the previous manager’s departure.

“But that’s gone now, and so has my spell as manager.

“I always said that when it ended, I’d sit down with my wife and have a glass of red, and it tasted good.

“Chris Powell is a top man and a top operator, and I think the club have made a great choice.

“He has a good reputation and a good record, and I know he can handle the job.

“If he needs any help or information, I am there to provide it.

“But for me, it’s back to managing the academy, and I know Chris and the board see it as a crucial part of the club going forward.

“I kept a close eye on things while I was taking the first team, and it’s good to be back doing a job I really enjoy.

“We had to cancel a staff curry night when I became stand-in manager, so we’ve got that back on the agenda.

“And I was also able to take part in the parents’ evening for the younger age groups, which is an important date on the calendar.

“I’m two and a half years into this job, but there is a lot still to be done and we want to raise the bar further.

“We’ll keep working hard every day to do exactly that.”