LONDON • The chances of Sam Allardyce becoming the next England manager have been enhanced by his willingness to help the Football Association (FA) mentor a young assistant who would be groomed as his successor.
The FA is keen to talk to both Allardyce, who left Sunderland's training camp in Austria on Monday, and the United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann about the vacancy created following Roy Hodgson's resignation. But FA officials have been encouraged by the 61-year-old's apparent enthusiasm for helping them to polish the next in line.
Sunderland insisted that Allardyce's early departure concerned ongoing discussions over potential transfers, with one source stating it was "business as usual".
The club had earlier remained resolutely silent in the face of mounting speculation on Monday.
While formal contact between manager, club and the FA is still to be established, Allardyce has made no secret of his desire to coach his country and was desperately disappointed to lose out to Steve McClaren when the pair competed for the post a decade ago.
After performing wonders to rescue Sunderland from relegation last season, a manager who has one year remaining on his contract at the Stadium of Light knows his stock is high.
While suggestions that his Wearside deal includes an escape clause facilitating an easy exit should England come calling have been dismissed by club sources, the relative brevity of his current agreement indicates compensation would not be insurmountable for the FA.
Although Allardyce enjoys a good relationship with Ellis Short, Sunderland's American owner, he seems deeply frustrated by the club's failure to make a single signing so far this summer.
That should encourage Martin Glenn, Dan Ashworth and David Gill - the FA's chief executive, technical director and vice-chairman respectively - in their pursuit of Allardyce.
They will also be interested in his consistent championing of young English coaches over the years.
Allardyce has a potentially valuable supporter in former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who is believed to have championed his case strongly to David Gill, the FA vice-chairman.
Even so, the FA continues to talk to a number of potential candidates and interested parties which are likely to include Bournemouth's Eddie Howe and Steve Bruce.
Although it is still to make contact with either Hull City's manager or his club, Bruce - currently at a pre-season training camp in Portugal - was delighted to be mentioned in dispatches.
"It's highly flattering and, whether or not it goes any further than that, I'm honoured to be linked with it," he said. "It's the pinnacle isn't it? To manage your country, there's no bigger job.
"It's all speculation but there's a lot of people who have written nice things and I'm grateful for that."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS