Race for top job at the Bank narrows as three drop out

The deputy governor Paul Tucker was installed as odds-on favourite for the top job at the Bank of England yesterday as the applications deadline for Britain's most powerful unelected role passed.

But the appointment process also drew criticism from the City as two high-profile candidates dropped out. Former civil service head and Treasury economist Lord O'Donnell declined to apply, as did Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Reports that Australian central banker Glenn Stevens – self-styled the "most boring man in Sydney" – had been approached were also denied, leaving the Treasury struggling to garner heavyweight candidates.

The Bank veteran Mr Tucker is now toe-to-toe with Financial Services Authority chairman Lord Turner to take on the leadership of an enlarged Bank of England, which assumes responsibility for financial regulation next year.