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Trending: Man Utd draw Chelsea in FA Cup

By ESPN Staff

Jose cancels return, but admits England interest

Jose Mourinho has admitted he could be the next England manager but has cancelled a planned return to London in a bid to stop further speculation linking him with the job.

In a short interview with Sky Sports News, Mourinho said he was remaining in Portugal because nobody would believe he returned to England to see family and friends.

Mourinho declared: 'I am in Portugal. I would like to be in London with my family for a couple of days but nobody would believe the reason why I would be there - to see friends and family and do some Christmas shopping.

'So to try to stop the speculation I decided not to go and stay here. It is sunny and beautiful.'

But, when asked if he could be the next England manager, Mourinho replied: 'Why not?'

Off camera Mourinho said the England post was a big one and the type he was looking for but he denied he was using the Football Association in a bid to get a club job.

Earlier the FA had denied reports that they were set to meet with Mourinho and had already held talks with Fabio Capello.

FA chief executive, Brian Barwick is believed to have drawn up his shortlist of candidates to replace Steve McClaren after talks with a number of figures within the game.

Mourinho and Capello are thought to be at the top of the wanted list. Capello has been out of work since leaving Real Madrid last summer and is keen on the England job.

Mourinho has refused to rule himself out of the running but the FA played down suggestions that Barwick had invited the former Chelsea coach over to England for talks or that they met with Capello last week in Italy to discuss the job.

Meanwhile, although Martin O'Neill's name continues to be mentioned, unless the Ulsterman reverses his stance on not leaving Aston Villa, it appears any short-list drawn up by Barwick and Brooking will be exclusively 'foreign'.

O'Neill also told The Times today he thinks Mourinho would be 'an excellent choice, simple as that'.

Certainly the Portuguese would be the easiest choice given his working knowledge of the English game and senior figures within his camp have spent the last week urging the FA to get in touch, which it appears they have done, even if it is not to the extent of booking him a flight.

Yet there is still an element of doubt over his desire to abandon day-to-day club management.

In his own private conversation with the FA, Sir Alex Ferguson is sure to have repeated his public stance that if a younger man - and Mourinho fits into that category - proved to be a success as an international manager, he would immediately crave a club job, as witnessed by Alex McLeish and his surprise move from Scotland to Birmingham.

Fabio Capello, who made his interest known almost as soon as McClaren was sacked, is without question a live contender, with FA officials making it clear that his inability to speak English would not prevent him getting the job.

The same criteria would also apply to fellow Italian and World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi who has one major positive going for him in that he has an outstanding relationship with Ferguson, from whom he will require a large degree of co-operation.

Jurgen Klinsmann has been backed by Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer, although having not had a job since guiding his country to the semi-finals of the last World Cup, the former Tottenham player is regarded as an outside bet.