Collins joins Scotland contenders

Former Hibs manager touts interest as SFA begin search for next manager

John Collins yesterday became the latest person to throw his hat in the ring to succeed George Burley as the Scotland manager. "I'd be interested in managing the national team," said the 41-year-old, formerly in charge at Hibernian. "But I don't want to appear as if I am touting for a job."

In the wake of Monday's sacking of Burley, his nephew and former Scotland player Craig Burley yesterday said some players were "too thick" to understand his uncle's coaching methods. "Some of them are too thick to take it on board and not good enough to take it on board anyway," he said.

"So he hasn't been able to get the players to perform for him, he hasn't been able to get them to understand what he wants the right formation and right results and, at the end of the day, that's all that matters."

The search for Burley's successor began in earnest yesterday with the Scottish Football Association's chief executive, Gordon Smith, vowing to hire "the best possible replacement". Smith will outline his aims in detail at a press conference this morning. Front-runners for the post include Dundee United's Craig Levein and Rangers' Walter Smith.

United's chairman, Stephen Thompson, said he wants to keep Levein. "If the SFA do ask for permission to speak to him, I could refuse, because he's got a contract here. But that will depend on the man himself, although all that would be between Craig and I. Would I consider him doing both jobs? I'd have to think about that, but I don't think Scotland have to appoint a manager overnight."

Kilmarnock's Jim Jefferies initially admitted he was "flattered" to be mentioned as a possibility but has not actually said that he wants the job. He almost certainly does but realises he would be down the pecking order on the SFA's wish-list.

Aberdeen's Mark McGhee, who lost out to Burley 22 months ago, appears to have ruled himself out. Shortly before Burley's departure was confirmed, he said: "I certainly won't be applying or doing anything in any other shape or form about the Scotland job." McGhee's predecessor at Pittodrie, Jimmy Calderwood, does want to be considered. "Any Scotsman would be interested and I'm no different," he said. "We are all Scottish supporters and the job would be the proudest one you could ever take on."

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