NORWEGIAN Ronny Deila is the surprise new front-runner to become Celtic boss, it is understood.
The 38-year-old led current club Stromsgodset to their first Norwegian title in 42 years and has now jumped ahead of former West Brom boss Steve Clarke as the man the Hoops board want to replace Neil Lennon.
A source close to Celtic said: "Deila is one of the candidates the club is looking at.
"He is a young, highly sought-after and highly-thought of coach and has done well to win cup and league title in his six years in charge at Stromsgodset.
"The club have already signed one of his former players, Stefan Johansen, and the board think he could fit the bill for the club going forward."
The Scottish champions had been hoping to land a box-office name in a bid to boost season-ticket sales.
But they have already seen moves form Parkhead icon Henrik Larsson and former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane falter.
The lack of competition with Rangers currently languishing in the lower leagues and the relative lack of financial clout compared to clubs in England has made their attempts to lure a big name to Glasgow's east end a tricky task.
However, it now appears they are ready to risk appointing another inexperienced coach, just as they did when Lennon was handed the manager's role back in 2010.
Deila was appointed to his current job in 2008 after formerly working as both a player and coach at Stromsgodset.
He led them to the Norwegian cup two years later and after finishing runners-up in the title race in 2012, his side lifted the championship in December last year.
Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell claimed last week that the club was working its way through a shortlist of 10 candidates.
But on Wednesday he was keeping his thoughts to himself as he refused to go into detail about just who the individuals were.
He told Sky Sports News: "There is nothing more we can say, we are still working on it. But hopefully within the next few days, or certainly within the next week, we might have something to say.
"We are still working on the same number [of candidates]. We are talking to a lot of people and hopefully we will get the right guy soon.
"We have met a few of the guys and it's been good. We have enjoyed the process and there has been a lot of good candidates."