Allardyce keeps his options open over England job

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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce has refused to rule himself out as a possible contender to be the next England manager in the event of Steve McClaren's dismissal. Afforded the opportunity to do so on two occasions yesterday at Newcastle United's training ground, Allardyce gave ambiguous responses.

Having been interviewed as a candidate along with McClaren following Sven Goran Eriksson's departure 18 months ago, initially Allardyce said yesterday: "I am glad I am here at Newcastle. This is the biggest club as an English manager that I could have got. The only job that would have been bigger than this was the national coach. I put myself forward for the job, didn't get it and my life has moved on. This job has come along and it makes me tingle at the thought of what we might achieve here."

But when asked if that meant he was saying he was no longer interested in the England post, Allardyce replied: "No, that's not me saying anything like that."

Allardyce then continued: "There is a man in the job, he is a very good friend of mine and I won't speculate as to whether I would or wouldn't do anything. He's there to do the job and he should be left to finish what he is doing until the very end. If there's anything to be talked about, it should be talked about then."

Allardyce, who is six months into a three-year contract at St James' Park, presumably knew that he would receive questions about England given his previous desire for the job and could have used this as the chance to end speculation. He is the favourite English candidate with the bookmakers.

At one stage Allardyce was asked if England was on his radar long-term to which he said: "Not really, the most important thing is to be successful here." But the fact that he declined to quash the subject definitively was revealing and ensures that he will continue to be linked with England.

"You have got all this hysteria which revolves around [the job]. It really doesn't matter how well or badly England played anymore, you know what you are going to get, and Steve, unfortunately, is getting it."

Allardyce added that Michael Owen had returned fit from the England games and would start Monday night's home game against Tottenham.

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