Roy Hodgson is reportedly in talks to return to Crystal Palace following the sacking of his successor Patrick Vieira.
Vieira replaced former England boss Hodgson, now 75, in 2021 but the club are reportedly considering turning back the clock after losing faith in the Frenchman.
Palace declined to comment when contacted by the PA news agency.
Hodgson appeared to be set for retirement when he walked away from Palace 18 months ago but accepted a fire-fighting mission at Watford last year, unsuccessfully attempting to steer the Hornets away from relegation.
He suggested at the time that his long and eventful career was winding down – saying: “I don’t think I shall be putting my name forward anymore for further stories in the world of Premier League football” – but his resolve could be stretched by one last spell at his old stomping ground.
Any deal would likely be short-term, possibly until the end of the current campaign. More immediately, former club captain Paddy McCarthy will lead the side against Arsenal on Sunday, with the under-21 coach assisted by Darren Powell and goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely.
Palace have held onto 12th place for nine straight weeks but their recent run of form, 12 matches across all competitions without a win and just five goals scored, left the south London side just three points clear of the relegation zone with 11 games to go.
While Hodgson’s candidacy appears to be advancing, the likes of Jesse Marsch, out of a job since he was let go by Leeds last month, former Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, Lucien Favre and Adi Hutter have all been linked.
Palace chairman Steve Parish insisted the mood around his club remained optimistic following Vieira’s departure.
“The players are fine and everybody is looking forward to Sunday, really,” Palace co-owner Parish told Sky Sports.
“The feeling is good. You know, everybody loved Patrick, genuinely. The players had all the time in the world for him. You saw from the performances he never lost the players at all, they were all running and playing for him.
“I think things just weren’t happening, so the mood was good, it was fine, but obviously we’re hoping that there’s a bit of fresh impetus, a few different ideas, maybe we surprise the opposition a little bit doing something different.
“We’ve got good players, we’ve got a good squad, we’ve got good lads. They follow Patrick and they will follow Paddy and they will follow Darren and they will do the best for the football club.
“Everybody is positive and wants to do their best and believes that we can win football matches. I’m not going to tell you it’s amazing today because Patrick is gone, because Patrick is a great guy and people loved working with him.
“I’m sure he will go on and be as successful as he was last year for us somewhere else, and he will maybe learn from the bits where it lost its way a little bit, and I really hope he does. It’s just football, isn’t it?”
McCarthy took the team through training as the news of Vieira’s departure broke, and told Palace TV: “Under strange circumstances, the lads showed good energy and enthusiasm.
“Obviously it’s a massive moment for myself, but ultimately it’s not about me.
“My only focus at the moment is about getting the team prepared and ready for Arsenal in the short space of time that we have, so everything’s just going to be geared into that.
“I’ll push all of that emotion to one side. Yes, it’s going to be a great opportunity for myself and Darren to manage at that level, but the focus is solely on setting the game plan and implementing that on Sunday.”
While Palace currently occupy the same spot in which they finished last campaign, the underlying numbers look starkly different – their total of 21 goals in 27 games this season is fewer than any Premier League team other than Wolves, Everton and Southampton (20) and barely half of their tally, 37, at the same stage last term.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe