England's prospects of securing Roy Hodgson's services have receded yet further after it emerged that Liverpool have not granted their new manager a get-out clause, allowing him to take up the national job if it were to fall vacant.
Hodgson, whose appointment as the 18th manager in Liverpool's history is expected to be confirmed today, is known to covet the idea of managing England but his new club, who will appoint him on a deal worth £6m, cannot contemplate the chaos of rapidly losing a manager appointed precisely because of the stability he would bring to Anfield.
The appointment was delayed last night owing to a wrangle over bonuses from Fulham which Hodgson feels he is entitled to, but this is expected to be resolved soon.
The Football Association could conceivably compensate Liverpool if they parted company with Fabio Capello and decided that Hodgson was the man to lead them after the early exit from the World Cup, though the 62-year-old has tied himself to a new challenge for two years and is unlikely to take a national role until the end of the 2012 European Championships.
The pursuit of Hodgson had seemed to have slowed after the club's initial contact with him, only to renew pace in the past week, at a time when Capello's future has looked uncertain. But privately Liverpool are adamant that the England situation has never been an issue for them as they have gone after the man who was immediately top of their list to replace Rafael Benitez. The club have detected no sense that Hodgson has been distracted by the possible availability of the international job and they deny that they have stepped up the pace of negotiations with the Fulham manager to prevent the Football Association beating them to their man.
Hodgson, who will probably appear at his first Liverpool press conference at Anfield tomorrow, is already giving thought to how he might rebuild a side which will be without Yossi Benayoun and possibly Javier Mascherano, who is disenchanted with life on Merseyside and wants a new club. Brede Hangeland is one player from his Fulham squad whom Hodgson can see succeeding at Anfield and Liverpool may make a bid. However, the probable price of over £10m would be prohibitive and Fulham would be unwilling to negotiate the price down with a club who have just taken their manager. In any case, central defence is not a priority for reinforcement.
Gilberto Silva, now at Panathinaikos, is another possible target. A bid for the 33-year-old former Arsenal defensive midfielder would reflect the financially straitened times at Anfield.
Liverpool were unwilling yesterday to discuss the future of Kenny Dalglish, who was understood to be ready to leave his position at Anfield, which includes work at the club's Academy and an ambassadorial role, if Hodgson took over. After Benitez's habit of making public the private battles waged at Anfield, Liverpool want to restore the club to the days when disputes were kept in-house, though one possible solution to Dalglish's unfulfilled desire to manage the club himself again is to install him in some kind of football directorship role.
The Liverpool job is Hodgson's 16th in a near 35-year managerial career. His appointment coincides with the return to training today of Liverpool's non-World Cup contingent and one of his first tasks will be to sign off Benayoun's departure, to Chelsea for £6m. He is also likely to speak with Steven Gerrard before the club captain returns from holiday on 18 July and may already have done so. Gerrard, one of the senior players made aware last week of Hodgson's impending arrival, has offered his tacit acceptance of the new appointment, though he is also weighing up his future having left England for a break following the World Cup exit. As yet, there have been no approaches for Gerrard.
Hodgson must also deal with an expected bid for Fernando Torres from Barcelona. Torres seems unsettled and has reiterated again in the last 48 hours that he will make no decision on his future until after the World Cup.
Serbian winger Milan Jovanovic, who impressed in his country's defeat of Germany at the World Cup, yesterday confirmed that he is joining Liverpool on a free transfer this summer, having agreed a three-year deal at the club – despite reports that the change of management may have prompted a rethink.