Phil Neville has emerged as a surprise name in the frame to be the next England Women manager.
The Football Association said on Saturday it had no update to offer on the ongoing search for Mark Sampson’s successor.
However, Neville has become an unexpected favourite for the job according to several reports, and may have given away his interest in the position by following several senior Lionesses players on social media in recent days.
The former England, Manchester United and Everton player has no experiencing of coaching in the women’s game but has had stints on the staff at United and Valencia and possesses the UEFA Pro Licence qualification.
Neville was an interested visitor to an England Women training session last July, when ahead of their Euro 2017 campaign the team trained in Valencia.
He met Sampson at the time and could now step into the role previously occupied by the Welshman, who was sacked in September for what the FA deemed “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” in a previous role with Bristol Academy.
The experienced Mo Marley has been in interim charge since Sampson’s dismissal and has overseen respective 4-0 and 5-0 World Cup qualifying wins over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan. England are well placed to reach next year’s tournament in France, for which they are expected to be among the favourites.
The FA’s head of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said in October that the plan was for Sampson’s permanent successor to be in place by the end of 2017, but that appointment has yet to be made.
One widely tipped contender, County Durham-born John Herdman, moved from being coach of Canada’s women’s team to lead their men’s side this week.
Marley confirmed last year that she applied for the job, while Chelsea Ladies boss Emma Hayes ruled herself out of contention by signing a new long-term contract with the Women’s Super League side.
The name of Neville, 40, has been circulating around the Lionesses squad according to Claire Rafferty, the Chelsea and England left-back.
Rafferty said on BBC Radio 5 Live this week: “Apparently Phil Neville was in the running for it. That’s rumours around the camp so I don’t know how true that is. There have been quite a lot of people who’ve dropped out of the running.”
FA chief executive Martin Glenn also this week told Press Association Sport: “We absolutely want to get the right person. We have got great ambitions for the women’s team.
“We believe we can win the World Cup so we have to get the right person with the right set of skills.
“We are lucky we have had a great interim in Mo Marley, so that has allowed us to spend that bit more time to make sure we are assessing all of the talent across the world.”
The England team, led by Marley, travel to La Manga on Sunday for a 10-day training camp.