Aston Villa are finalising their shortlist of candidates to replace Gerard Houllier - with former England boss Steve McClaren among their targets, Press Association Sport understands.
The midlands club are believed to have sounded out several contenders to see if they are available and interested in the post - including McClaren, who is known to be keen to return to the Barclays Premier League.
Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner will draw up the final shortlist before looking to start conducting interviews on a formal basis, probably at the end of this week.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is also understood to have impressed Lerner after helping the Latics avoid relegation and he has still to sign a new three-year contract.
Lerner would ideally like to have Houllier's successor in place by mid-June.
That would give him time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current squad and potential transfer targets before Villa report back for pre-season training on July 7.
McClaren has been much derided for his 17 months spell in charge of England after the 2006 World Cup.
But he has a successful record at club level, winning the League Cup and reaching the UEFA Cup final with Middlesbrough.
After his unhappy England spell, McClaren returned to management with FC Twente and guided the Enschede outfit to the Dutch title although he then had an unhappy time with German club Wolfsburg and was sacked.
Two other candidates, Carlo Ancelotti and Martin Jol, have now slipped out of the picture for differing reasons.
Former Chelsea manager Ancelotti is taking a year's break from coaching while Jol was today appointed Fulham boss in succession to Mark Hughes - the early bookmakers' favourite for the Villa post.
In the long term, former Villa defender Martin Laursen has indicated he would like the chance to manage the club.
Laursen, forced to retire with a knee problem two years ago, will take his coaching badges later this year.
He said: "It would be great to be Villa manager one day. That would be a big dream. But that's a long way off."