Former Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce has held talks with Aston Villa and he remains favourite to fill their managerial vacancy.
Villa sacked Roberto di Matteo on Monday, with the club 19th in the Championship and winless in nine games.
Bruce, 55, has been without a club since leaving Hull City, but was interviewed by the Football Association for the England job in July.
He has won promotion to the Premier League four times as a manager.
Di Matteo’s assistant Steve Clarke remains in caretaker charge at Villa, and the club’s next match is at home to West Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers on 15 October.
Former Birmingham midfielder Robbie Savage, who played under Bruce at St Andrew’s, described him as the “right man” to take over at Villa Park.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche, Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy, Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner and Bristol City’s Lee Johnson have all also been linked with the Villa job, but Wagner and Johnson have ruled themselves out of the running.
Analysis – BBC Radio 5 live’s Pat Murphy
“Steve Bruce has had exploratory talks three times in the past 48 hours with Aston Villa, hardening up the fact that he’s now odds-on for the manager’s job.
“Keith Wyness, Villa’s chief executive, has been charged with talking to Bruce. The last conversation was a 20-minute phone call on Friday.
“Wyness told him ‘the process’ was continuing and that he’d get back to Bruce.
“Villa’s technical director Steve Round – one of a trio charged with drawing up a shortlist for the owner, Dr Tony Xia – has yet to meet Bruce for specific discussions about Bruce’s proposed backroom staff and other football issues, but Round is an admirer.
“Caretaker boss Steve Clarke remains in the frame, with the Villa recruitment team unwilling to blame him for Di Matteo’s unimpressive tenure which led to his sacking.”
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