Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has joined Jose Mourinho on the early list of contenders to replace sacked England manager Steve McClaren, according to British reports yesterday.
Mourinho is said to be tempted by the post having been out of a job since departing Chelsea in dramatic fashion earlier this season -- but some reports suggest that momentum is also gathering behind O'Neill.
On Thursday Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez unexpectedly dropped a hint that he could be interested in the job amid reports of a rift with the owners of the Anfield club.
Luiz Felipe Scolari is also reportedly among the foreign managers on England's wish list, although the Brazilian is believed to be a long shot.
Leading the "home" front runners is O'Neill, with the Daily Telegraph claiming the Ulsterman is the frontrunner and could be joined by former England captain Alan Shearer in the England hot seat.
The Times reported, however, that O'Neill would rule himself out of the running to replace McClaren, who was sacked the day after England's stunning 3-2 Wembley defeat to Group E rivals Croatia.
■ ENGLAND NOT SEEDED
AFP. DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
England's decline as an international soccer power was further underlined yesterday when they missed out on a seeding for the preliminary qualifying draw for the 2010 World Cup.
After falling to 12th in the FIFA rankings over their failure to qualify for Euro 2008, England now face the possibility of facing Italy, France or Germany when the draw takes place tomorrow.
Nine other European teams are now ranked ahead of England, meaning they will just miss out on one of the seedings.
Also See: FIFA: England praying for lucky draw