Jose Mourinho will be in the running to become England manager if he quits Real Madrid in the summer, according to well-placed ESPNsoccernet sources.
The Football Association is delaying drawing up a shortlist of candidates to allow Fabio Capello to prepare for the European Championships, but it is inevitable that the next England manager will be high on the agenda as the tournament draws nearer.
While it has been recognised for nearly 18 months that the FA prefer an English candidate, ESPNsoccernet can reveal that the door will not be shut on any compelling foreign coaches' claims, if their candidacy is far superior to that of the limited number of English options.
Harry Redknapp, Roy Hodgson and Alan Pardew are the most speculated names currently among the very short list of English coaches who might qualify as Capello's successor.
However, Arsene Wenger would be welcomed on board by the FA, if he opted to quit Arsenal in the summer, but having come through the worst part of Arsenal's dip this season, the possibility of Wenger being available is very much speculative.
It has come to the FA's attention that Mourinho is making noises about a return to English football for next season, and with such limited possibilities in the Premier League, the England manager role would be something for the Portuguese to consider for a second time.
ESPNsoccernet understands that Mourinho might well have been hired ahead of Capello had he made himself available for an interview but, although he had indicated through third parties that he might want the job, he changed his mind before any formal talks ever took place.
Mourinho is currently ready to entertain a return to English football after a four-year absence, although at this stage he has thought mostly about a major club such as Manchester United, or indeed Manchester City, but there is every chance that neither role would be vacant for next season. Sir Alex Ferguson is showing no sign of retirement and Roberto Mancini is still in favour at City.
Real are seven points clear at the top of the Primera Division, but the 49-year-old has not managed to break Barcelona's dominance in matches between the two rivals and he has attracted a raft of negative headlines, although English football is already familiar with the inevitable controversy that always surrounds him.
It would be a massive coup for the FA, no matter how expensive, to land Mourinho. With dipping values in TV rights, and the concerns over the value of friendlies, Mourinho would reignite interest in the England team.
Mourinho spent three years at Chelsea from June 2004, twice winning the Premier League and League Cup as well as the FA Cup before his sudden exit in September 2007.
It is often felt that the FA goes for the safe option but, in spite of his controversial approach, Mourinho's appointment would likely be welcomed by the public, even above an English candidate.