Martin O'Neill has a fortnight to decide whether to leave Celtic and become the manager of Tottenham Hotspur following Glenn Hoddle's dismissal at the weekend.
The Ulsterman with the reputation for protracted managerial moves is the first choice of Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy, but an appointment has been put on hold for a couple of weeks. O'Neill is attracted to the White Hart Lane post and the potential of rousing a sleeping giant, but leaving Celtic in the middle of a Champions' League campaign - and other issues in Glasgow - makes it a difficult decision.
Spurs are willing to give O'Neill some time to sever his links with Celtic, but they will not allow the trail to go cold. They will switch to Charlton's Alan Curbishley if their main target dithers.
O'Neill is reaching a decisive spell at Celtic with a home game against the French side Lille next week that his team needs to win to keep alive their qualifying hopes. There is also an annual general meeting at Celtic soon that will show whether there is any money for him to spend in the future. That may help him to make his decision about staying.
Tottenham are prepared to wait as they believe O'Neill is interested. His family live outside London and he is attracted by the prospect of returning to the English Premiership.
O'Neill is also allegedly on a one-year rolling contract although Spurs think that they could take him away from Glasgow without paying a full year's salary as compensation.
The affair could take a long time to settle, but Tottenham third bottom of the Premier League - cannot wait forever for an answer. They do not want to find out their interest in O'Neill is being used to tempt the likes of Liverpool and Newcastle to jump in for him.
O'Neill has often taken an age to sort out his moves, obliging Celtic to wait for weeks for him to leave Leicester City and join them. Before that he turned down numerous jobs, missing out on some because of his slow decision-making.
David Pleat, Tottenham's director of football who is in caretaker charge of the club for the next couple of games, also said that Tottenham are in no rush to appoint a successor to Hoddle, who was sacked on Sunday in the wake of the 3-1 home defeat against Southampton. Asked if there was a time scale on replacing Hoddle, Pleat said: "No there isn't", and he pointed out that Levy is not expected back from a trip abroad until next week.
Pleat, a former Spurs manager from 1986 to 1987, insists that he is not thinking about putting himself forward for a second stint in charge, preferring instead to concentrate on tonight's Carling Cup tie against Coventry City.
"When you're in charge of a group of people you have so much to think about and I'm only thinking about tomorrow," he said. "The past is gone and I have to try to get the boys together. I am not thinking of me at the moment.
"It might have been different if I was in my thirties but at the moment I am just focusing on the immediate and trying to do as well as possible. I haven't got an intention at this stage other than keeping well and working with the players."
Asked if that amounted to a 'yes', 'no' or a 'maybe' with regard to the Spurs job, Pleat replied: "It's clearly all three. I have to deal with the immediate and whatever happens later on will happen.
"It may be that Sven [the England coach Sven Goran Eriksson] comes knocking, or anyone, and they want to take him straight away. Anything can happen. Who can see the future."
Meanwhile, the midfielder Gustavo Poyet returns to the squad for tonight's game. Poyet has recovered from a wrist injury but the Wales midfielder Simon Davies is still sidelined by a thigh strain and Jamie Redknapp is ruled out by a knock on the knee he suffered during the defeat by Southampton. John Jackson and Jon Blondell are added to the squad.
Ledley King (hamstring) is ruled out and the loan signing Paul Konchesky is ineligible but Robbie Keane could start.Reuse content