Levein given permission for Scotland talks

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Craig Levein was today granted permission by Dundee United to speak to the Scottish Football Association about the vacant Scotland manager's job.

United reluctantly bowed to Levein's desire to discuss succeeding George Burley, who was sacked last month.

Levein will now hold talks with SFA chief executive Gordon Smith, who is spearheading the search for Burley's replacement.

United said in a statement on their official website: "Further to the telephone call of SFA chief executive Gordon Smith to Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson last night concerning permission to speak to United manager Craig Levein in relation to the Scotland manager position, the Dundee United board of directors have today reluctantly agreed to Craig Levein's request to speak to the SFA regarding this matter."

Thompson was furious with the way news of the SFA's approach was leaked overnight.

"I am very unhappy at the way the SFA have dealt with this," he told BBC Scotland.

"I received two phone calls yesterday from Gordon Smith. The first was to ask for permission to speak to Craig.

"Later, I received another call from Gordon to tell me that an east coast journalist had leaked the story.

"I had told Gordon that I wanted 24 hours to consider the request and had told no-one about it except my board.

"The local press did not run the story, so where did it come from?"

Thompson will demand compensation for Levein, who signed a contract until May 2012 a year ago this month.

Speaking earlier today, Levein said of the Scotland vacancy: "Yes, I think it's an attractive job for anybody.

"I've got the Hamilton game on Saturday, which is the most important thing because the rest of it might never happen."

There had been reports Levein, who has been at Tannadice for just over three years, was only one name on a five-man shortlist but the SFA have insisted he is the only manager to be approached about the vacancy.

Chief executive Smith revealed earlier this week there were some eye-catching names among the applicants to replace Burley.

Burley was sacked last month after a 3-0 friendly defeat in Wales which followed a failed 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The SFA hope to appoint his successor before the European Championship qualifying draw on February 7.

Levein has made a good impression at Tannadice, despite his team being hampered by injury and suspension so far this season.

The former Hearts and Leicester boss has so far been unable to call upon last term's top scorer Francisco Sandaza or captain Lee Wilkie.

United are currently fourth in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, seven points behind pacesetters Rangers, who beat them 3-0 on Tuesday.

Levein led the Tangerines to fifth place last season, a position which would have been better had they picked up more than a single point from their last four games.