SFA poised to name McLeish

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The Independent Football

Alex McLeish is expected to be confirmed as Walter Smith's successor as the Scotland manager within the next two days. The only sticking points are the make-up of his staff and the precise terms of his contract, including a specific mandatory release fee if he chooses to return to club football before his proposed deal with the Scottish Football Association expires.

McLeish, 48, has been out of work since leaving Rangers last summer. He won seven trophies in four years at Ibrox, and while he had expressed a desire to return to club football he has become more enthusiastic about the Scotland job since an interview with the SFA last week.

"I've thrown my hat in the ring and I am sure we will hear soon," he said. "Of course it would be fantastic, just the same as it would be for anyone managing their country of origin."

It is thought that Andy Watson, who was McLeish's assistant at Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers, will become his No 2, leaving only one "wild-card" issue - whether Gary McAllister, Roy Aitken or both will also be part of the team.

McAllister has also been given serious consideration for the main job, and he is in the frame for a return to Coventry, where he managed briefly from 2002 to 2003 before stepping down to look after his wife, Denise, who died last year from cancer. Aitken has been out of football since last summer, when he left Aston Villa, where he had been working as David O'Leary's assistant.

The SFA has made it clear that Smith's successor will be Scottish, and ideally be free from current commitments. The SFA wants the new man to have a fixed price on his head to avoid disputes such as the one over Smith, who was poached by Rangers, causing a compensation row.

The Ghanaian midfielder Laryea Kingston, 26, claims to have completed his transfer to Hearts from Terek Grozny after also having talks with Bolton.

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