West Ham United have not given up hope of securing Martin O'Neill as their next manager, but the Northern Irishman wants to wait until his dispute with Aston Villa is settled before making a final decision over his future.
A source close to the Hammers' hunt for a new manager revealed the relegated club have spoken to O'Neill's camp, but told ESPNsoccernet: "For the moment Martin O'Neill is only interested in sorting out his Villa case, which starts on Thursday."
O'Neill decided to part company with Villa five days before the start of the current season following a disagreement with the owner Randy Lerner over the sale of James Milner to Manchester City and the 59-year-old has unfinished business with the Midlands club.
A clause in O'Neill's Villa contract states that he can seek arbitration if he feels unfairly treated and his case will now go before the Premier League Managers Arbitration Tribunal after both he and Villa failed to come to an agreement.
The Hammers also courted O'Neill at the turn of the year, when it was expected recently ousted boss Avram Grant would then be sacked, but after initially signalling that he would take the job, he eventually turned them down.
West Ham must regret that they failed to hire O'Neill back in January, and are now sounding him out again. But an insider told ESPNsoccernet: "I think he simply can't make a decision!"
West Ham could delay a decision for two weeks while they wait for the tribunal involving O'Neill and Villa to resolve itself. The Ulsterman is top of the club's shortlist and West Ham would entice him to Upton Park with a promotion bonus of £4 million.
The suspicions, though, deepen at Upton Park that the former Aston Villa and Celtic manager will turn them down again, but they remain determined to wait for his final word.
Meanwhile, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan says he is "amused'' that certain individuals have moved to rule themselves out of the running for the vacant manager's position as they have not even been considered.
Grant's departure has seen the likes of former England manager Steve McClaren and Brighton boss Gus Poyet rule themselves out of the running for the Upton Park hotseat. While Sullivan did not name the pair, the co-owner admitted he thought it was odd that managers have made the public move to distance themselves from the role.
"We are amused by certain individuals saying they don't want the job when they haven't been considered for it,'' he told the London Evening Standard. "We've had approaches by some good candidates but we treat all applications as confidential.''