NEWS : FA dismisses Clark link to England job

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The Independent Online
Football

The Association have dismissed as "pure speculation" a report in yesterday's Sunday Express linking the Frank Clark, the Nottingham Forest manager, with the job of England coach.

However, a senior source at the FA yesterday called the report "nonsense", saying that Clark - who is not one of the favourites to take over from Terry Venables - had not been approached, and nor was any likely to be until the season was over.

Clark is believed to have impressed the five-man selection panel of FA chairman Sir Bert Millichip, chief executive Graham Kelly and international committee members Noel White, Chris Wilcox and Keith Wiseman with his work in guiding Nottingham Forest - England's last remaining survivors in European competition - to the quarter-finals of this season's Uefa Cup, the second leg of which they play at the City Ground against Bayern Munich tomorrow night.

Clark, 52, has the experience, the tactical command and the respect the job demands. His achievement in repairing the Forest decline of Brian Clough's final seasons fully merited Clough's unshakeable nomination of his dependable right-back as his successor.

Clark took over at Forest in 1993, inheriting a neglected side that had fallen into disrepair, and they were duly relegated from the Premiership.

However, Clark soon pulled them into shape, regaining their top-flight status at the first attempt and then challenging for the title behind Blackburn and Manchester United last season, with only a mini crisis around Christmas condemning them to finish third.

His appointment to the England job would not be the spectacular coup the FA hoped for, and might only prove a stop-gap for the 1998 World Cup campaign while a younger man finishes his Premiership apprenticeship.

But, given the almost universal reluctance of anyone else to step forward, Clark's recent call for an early resolution of the dilemma might just have delivered the top job into his own lap.

However, FA spokesman Steve Double said: "Any names put forward at this stage are pure speculation. No decision has yet been taken as yet and it is unlikely any announcement is imminent."

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