ROY HODGSON has taken the first step towards becoming the next England manager after telling West Brom he wants to speak to the Football Association about replacing Fabio Capello.
Out of contract in the summer, West Brom have confirmed permission has been granted for talks to open, which could reach a successful conclusion very quickly.
The move has stunned the English game as almost everyone expected Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp would be top of their list.
"The club are currently in negotiations with Roy about a new contract - his current deal ends on June 30 - and remain very keen to bring these talks to a successful conclusion," said West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace
"However, Roy has expressed a desire to explore this opportunity and, accordingly, the club have granted him permission to speak to the FA.
"Roy has done a fantastic job over the past 15 months and the fact the FA want to discuss the England role with him is testament to that.
"Roy is a proud Englishman and we can understand why he wants to speak to the FA about this highly-prestigious managerial position.
"However, we have emphasised to Roy how much we would like him to remain as our head coach and continue his major contribution to our project at the Hawthorns as we look to establish ourselves as a Premier League club."
It is still possible Hodgson will say no, but that seems unlikely as, in an extensive interview earlier this year, the Londoner said the job would be "a tremendous honour".
With his contract almost up, Hodgson would command barely any compensation, another factor which may just have helped the FA reach their decision.
"I'm grateful to Jeremy and all at West Bromwich Albion for their co-operation in allowing us to approach Roy, who I have since spoken with," said FA chairman David Bernstein.
"Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set out soon after Fabio Capello's departure.
"Further conversations will now take place with Roy and my Club England colleagues before any further announcements can be made."
Hodgson has built up an impressive CV, which includes spells in the international game with Switzerland - whom he guided to the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96, although he resigned before the latter took place - Finland and the United Arab Emirates.
However, this is unlikely to win over those who feel Redknapp should have been asked first.
The Tottenham manager might be more than a little angry himself as, while he has denied it, the speculation surrounding his chances of getting the job seems to have damaged Spurs' form.
It also begs the question as to why the FA waited until now to make their move given West Brom have been comfortable in mid-table for a number of weeks, their safety assured long before yesterday's goalless draw with Aston Villa.
Even as recently as a fortnight ago, Club England sources were indicating that more than two people were in the frame for a job they wanted an Englishman to fill if at all possible.
On Thursday, they categorically ruled departing Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola out as a potential candidate.