BURNLEY are believed to have sounded out former Republic of Ireland and Wolves boss Mick McCarthy for the vacant post at Turf Moor.
Late Sunday evening it emerged that the Clarets have made contact with the 53-year-old, who left Molineux in February after a 5-1 Premier League defeat at home to Black Country rivals West Brom.
McCarthy has also been linked with the jobs at north west rivals Bolton - who he is also understood to have spoken to - and Blackburn Rovers, while there is a clamour among pundits for him to return to the Irish fold after Giovanni Trappatoni’s men crashed to their worst ever home defeat on Friday, losing 6-1 to Germany.
He held talks in July with new Nottingham Forest owners the Al-Hasawi family, though it is thought he rejected the chance to take over as he wanted a return to the Premier League.
The McCarthy news came as something of a curveball, with evidence pointing to Portsmouth’s Michael Appleton as the favourite for the job, following Eddie Howe’s return to Bournemouth on Friday.
Appleton and Barnsley’s Keith Hill were believed to be leading the race, with Graham Alexander and David Unsworth - with their Claret connections - also thought to be under consideration.
Wigan number two Graeme Jones was another name thrust forward on Sunday night - having helped Roberto Martinez establish Swansea’s successful passing philosophy, before leaving for the DW Stadium.
And former Clarets midfielder Warren Joyce - now reserve team boss at Manchester United - is another name the club are keen to speak to.
I understand the board met on Sunday to whittle down their long list, as they look to formulate a short list of two or three.
However, chief executive Lee Hoos insists there is no rush as they search for the right man.
He said: “We would like someone in as soon as possible, but we also don’t want to rush into it by a specific date, such as Saturday’s game with Blackpool.
“There are enough good candidates that we could possibly make an appointment fairly quickly, but we want to make sure we get it right.
“There are a number of stand out candidates who would be excellent choices.”
And Hoos is prepared to target managers currently in employment: “We will be in contact with a few people over the course of the next few days and having chats with them.
“If we think the right person is on the radar, we won’t hesitate about asking clubs for permission to speak to them.”
A manager’s philosophy is important - the club are keen to appoint someone to build on the work of Howe, as Hoos added: “I don’t want to rule anyone out, but we have a squad that plays a certain way, and we want to play to their strengths - we don’t want someone to play long ball, we want someone who utilises the players we have and brings the best out of them.”
Owen Coyle, however, would appear a rank outsider for a controversial return to Turf Moor after he was sacked by Bolton last Tuesday: “It’s not down to me, but as an objective outsider who wasn’t here when he left, it would be difficult for him to come back.”
While Coyle knows the club, as does Alexander and Unsworth - and the likes of Micky Mellon and Crewe’s Steve Davis, who have also been linked with the post, being a former Claret isn’t the be all and end all: “It would be helpful if someone knows the club and the area, but it’s not the most important factor - it won’t be key.”
And Hoos feels whoever comes in is inheriting a group of players capable of success: “We are scoring goals for fun, which is the hard bit, but we’re conceding as well, so that needs remedying.
“But Danny Ings is making a good recovery, and Charlie Austin can’t stop scoring goals.
“There is everything to play for this season, you only have to look at where Reading where this time last year, and how Leicester have shot up the table after beating us.”