The bookies had stopped taking bets on Chris Hughton, but West Bromwich Albion insisted yesterday "no decision" had been taken about who would succeed Roberto Di Matteo -- allowing Michael Appleton to audition for the role in tomorrow's relegation six-pointer at home to West Ham.
And last night former Liverpool and Fulham manager Roy Hodgson leap-frogged Hughton into the favourite's position after a flood of bets on the 63-year-old to take over at the Hawthorns after his ill-fated spell at Anfield.
Appleton, who was named caretaker head coach after Di Matteo's sacking last Sunday, promised Avram Grant's team "a few surprises".
First, though, he sat next to a club official who read out a statement before the pre-match press briefing. It read: "Contrary to widespread reports in the media, I can categorically state that no decision has yet been made by the football club regarding the appointment of a new head coach."
Hughton -- fired by Newcastle after a 3-1 defeat at the Hawthorns in December -- held talks with Albion on Wednesday. Discussions were reportedly due to resume yesterday, but it is thought there may have been hitches over back-room staff.
Albion want to retain the services of Appleton, a member of the coaching team for eight years since injury forced the former Manchester United midfielder's retirement as a player.
Another sticking point could be that Albion operate a European-style hierarchy, with the head coach answerable to a sporting and technical director, Dan Ashworth, who has the final say on transfers. Hughton would have to accept an unfamiliar system, one which Appleton is already familiar.