Ranieri applies for Hearts vacancy

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The Independent Football

He has been linked to the Republic of Ireland manager's post, which sources confirm he is interested in, but the prospect of taking Hearts into Europe would also appeal if his application was successful.

Robson has been considered the front runner because Hearts offered him the job the last time it was available, during the summer, and nothing has happened since to dent his credentials. However, with Hearts now topping the Scottish Premier League and looking like genuine contenders, Romanov has a much wider pool of experienced candidates.

George Burley parted company with Hearts because of "irreconcilable differences" with Romanov. Whether Romanov's alleged meddling in the day-to-day running of the team acts as a deterrent to Robson remains to be seen.

The former England manager was in Edinburgh yesterday to attend the funeral of his former Fulham and England team-mate, Johnny Haynes. He declined to comment on the Hearts job, for which he has already had preliminary talks with Hearts' chief executive, Phil Anderton.