Shearer's Rovers refusal opens door for Ince

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The Independent Football

Blackburn Rovers appeared to be facing a choice of the untested and the unpopular last night after Alan Shearer ruled himself out of the race to succeed Mark Hughes as the club's manager.

Amid personal doubts both about the amount Blackburn could pay him and spend on players to maintain Mark Hughes' record, the 37-year-old former England captain revealed from the BBC couch at half-time during the Euro 2008 tie between Switzerland and Turkey that he had "politely declined" the opportunity to be placed on a four-man shortlist.

Chief executive, John Williams, must now decide whether to approach MK Dons for permission to speak to Paul Ince – he had not as of yesterday afternoon – or proceed with Sam Allardyce, installed last night as bookies' favourite. "The situation was, and is, that I was very flattered to have got a call from the chief executive, John Williams, at Blackburn," Shearer said. "He asked me if I would like to be included on a shortlist for the manager's job, which I politely declined because of the commitments that I have, namely this one. I was very flattered to have been asked and I thank him for that."

Ince, who arrived back in Britain on Tuesday after a holiday in Portugal, kept the prospect of him managing the side alive when he said it was "flattering to be linked with any job, especially in the Premier League" and that he anticipated having "a better idea of what's going on in the next two or three days." Ince's representatives are due to speak imminently to his chairman at Milton Keynes, Peter Winkelman.

Also back in Britain – from Doha – today is Allardyce, who has spoken to Williams on the phone and is due to be interviewed in the next few days. Allardyce has demonstrated his ability to deliver in the top flight on minimum resources but Williams will be acutely aware of how unpopular a choice Allardyce would be. A poll in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph last week delivered him just 10 per cent of the vote and fans were yesterday threatening not to renew their season tickets if Allardyce – an individual as unpopular for managing rivals Bolton as for his style of football – is appointed.

Despite the enthusiasm Shearer's friends say he has for leaving his BBC role and getting back into the game, he was acutely aware of how difficult it would have been to build on the foundation Hughes has established at Rovers with relatively modest funds.

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