CARLTON caretaker coach John Barker has a big advantage over the field to secure the Blues' coaching job outright, according to chief executive Steven Trigg.
Trigg, who chairs the selection panel tasked with finding the next long-term Blues senior coach, said they had already trimmed a list of candidates to below 20.
Further cutting will come in future weeks, but anyone left standing will need to overtake Barker in the pecking order.
In five rounds since inheriting the reins from Mick Malthouse, Barker has taken the Blues to two wins and two single-figure losses, a vast improvement on the uncompetitive side from earlier in the season.
It's certainly been noticed by the selection panel, and Trigg gave Barker a leg-up on the field.
"He is in a unique and ideal position to be able to audition really strongly," Trigg said.
"To be having the steering wheel is a valuable thing for a candidate.
"In his last five weeks the coaching panel have done a really wonderful job and we're really pleased with the way they're going."
Should the wins dry up for Carlton, there is every chance it won't count against Barker, who has been charged with to "trying a few things" by the Blues hierarchy.
Trigg has not discounted finding the next coach from outside the club's current coaching set-up, giving a few clues as to the qualities they are looking for.
"Connection with players, building culture, demonstrating leadership ... they're all really important aspects for any coach," he said.
"Whether they are auditioning with the steering wheel at hand at the moment or we're talking to them separately, there needs to be a demonstration of a capacity to be able to build all that.
"There will be some other candidates who will be able to point very strongly to their capacity to do it as well.
"We're seeing John at first hand, and he's doing a very fine job of all of it."
Assistants Simon Lloyd (at Fremantle), Adam Kingsley (St Kilda) and Stuart Dew (Sydney Swans) have all been linked with the Blues job, along with former Gold Coast senior coach Guy McKenna.