Football: Keegan ready for FA talks

KEVIN KEEGAN yesterday gave the first hint that he is prepared to become England's manager in succession to Glenn Hoddle. At least he is prepared to talk to the Football Association, which makes him an on- the-record exception among club managers.

"If the FA come on an ask to talk to me and Mr Al Fayed gives them permission, I will talk to them, don't worry about that," Keegan said after Fulham had been beaten 1-0 by Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup yesterday. "I've never said I wouldn't do that."

That would appear to open the door to an approach from Lancaster Gate, whereas up until now Keegan has slammed it shut at every available opportunity. Ever since Hoddle was sacked after making injudicious comments about the disabled, the Fulham manager has been at the forefront of people's minds as a replacement.

Last week the Keegan-for-England bandwagon built momentum and was not slowed by his insistence that he still has a job to do at Fulham, who head the Second Division. Now, maybe he can persuaded to do the England job on a part-time basis until his commitments at Craven Cottage are finished.

The FA have said they wish to appoint someone this week so that the man in charge will have a lengthy settling-in period before next month's European Championship qualifier with Poland. Whether Keegan is that man is unknown, but some people within Lancaster Gate are known to admire his inspirational qualities.

Even yesterday Keegan insisted he would not walk out on Fulham and that he had not been approached by anyone at the FA, but he clearly expected that to change. If the approach and terms are right he could be persuaded to take the job.

"Despite the fact all the media and the bookies seem to know something is going to happen the man they are talking about is sat here, can look you in the face, and honestly say nobody from the FA has spoken to me," Keegan said. "I haven't had a phone call but judging from what has been happening, mainly in the media, I'm going to get one this week."

Whether he would be open to this approach is debatable because he gave out a mixed message

"In one way it's a very big compliment, it's just the timing of it,"he said. "I love Fulham football club very, very much and I really enjoy what is happening here, it's the only way I can work. Today has given me a boost, not the way we played, but because we have brought 8,500 people to Old Trafford to watch Fulham.

"On the one side you have got that emotion but on the other there is the pull that every single Englishman should have, which is to manage your country. Maybe I should jump at it but I'm not like that. If I say I want to stay at Fulham then people will say `he has to say that', but if I say `no comment' then it's also interpreted in a certain way. I don't really know how to comment.

"It's a strange situation somewhere has not only has no one seen fit to approach me but they have gone around telling people they will."