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SFA play down rumours of Burns appointment

Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith denied the appointment of youth supremo Billy Stark is a precursor to Tommy Burns being named national team boss.

The Scotland national side are still looking for a successor, with Celtic coach Burns, Motherwell boss Mark McGhee, former Rangers and Liverpool boss Graeme Souness and former Preston manager Billy Davies reported to be on a short-list drawn up by the SFA.

Stark, who was assistant to Burns at Kilmarnock and Celtic, was officially unveiled this morning as the SFA's youth teams coach and Scotland Under-21 manager.

However, Smith denied Stark's appointment was an indication that Burns will follow him to Hampden.

He said: 'This gives no indication of that whatsoever. Billy is a separate appointment and the national team manager's appointment will be separate as well.

'The process began when Alex McLeish was in the job and Billy, or whoever was appointed, was to be working alongside Alex McLeish, that was our thoughts.

'Whoever becomes national team manager we hope can work along with Billy but this gives no indication whatsoever.'

Smith refused to discuss the suggestion that he has approached Celtic to seek permission to talk to Burns.

'I'm not speaking about any international team manager's position today at all,' he said. 'This is about the under-21 and youth teams' manager.

'I don't want to go in to any details, because as soon as we start to mention individual names, then the pressure builds up. The speculation continues, people are still throwing names in the hat and the bookies are finding new favourites every day.

'I am working on a process just now and when we are ready to announce something that is what we will do.

'We would like to have somebody in position by the end of January.'

Stark, who left Queen's Park to take up his new role, said: 'I'm delighted and thrilled to be involved in the international set-up.

'I wasn't fortunate to play for Scotland but to be involved in the coaching and management side is the next best thing.'