Terry Butcher yesterday held initial talks with Barnsley about the managerial vacancy at the Championship side.
Further discussions are planned in the next 24 hours, and the Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager will face a difficult decision about his future. "I think Terry was pleased with what he heard when I spoke to him," said Dan Rowling, the Barnsley director, to BBC Scotland.
Inverness were reluctant to grant Butcher permission to speak to the club who are bottom of the Championship and first turned to Sean O'Driscoll [sacked by Nottingham Forest] as a potential replacement for the sacked Keith Hill. However, the Highland side – currently second in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League – have not given up hope of persuading Butcher to stay in Scotland, where he and his wife are happily settled.
"We will do everything possible to ensure Terry remains with the club and finishes what has been an incredible journey to date for us all," said the Inverness chairman, Kenny Cameron. "Given our current position in the SPL and the fact we have a cup semi-final on the horizon, it is inevitable that if any managerial positions come up our management team will no doubt be on the radar."
Butcher has built an entertaining and effective young side in Inverness – they have lost only three SPL games this season – and has continued an impressive partnership with his assistant, Maurice Malpas. They were first a managerial duo at Motherwell but went their separate ways when Butcher took over at Sydney in 2006, yet neither has flourished when working separately.
That relationship, plus Butcher's satisfaction with life in Inverness, might be enough to put him off returning to England. He has endured mostly only disappointment in his managerial roles down south, lasting less than two years at Coventry City, nine months at Sunderland in 1993, then only seven months at Brentford in 2007. However, the former England captain might also believe he still has a point to prove outwith Scotland as a manager, and some of his best young players at Inverness are out of contract in the summer, so he may believe he has achieved as much as he can at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
Butcher was not the only SPL manager attracting attention yesterday, with Steve Lomas, of St Johnstone, among the contenders to replace Dean Saunders at Doncaster Rovers. Saunders has taken charge at Wolves, leaving Brian Flynn and Rob Jones, the captain and former Hibernian defender, in temporary charge. Lomas was among the bookmakers' favourites yesterday although some reports also credited the club with an interest in Butcher, although that now seems unlikely to develop.
"The board have met and will now invite applications, but the club is in no rush to make an appointment," said a statement from the League One side. "It's important that we get the right man who will enable us to continue our promotion push. The club [is] aiming to have a new manager in place in time for the next home game against Leyton Orient [in 11 days]."