Sam Allardyce will be appointed the new England manager within 24 hours, according to reports.
The 61-year-old Sunderland boss arrived at Victoria Park for his club’s first pre-season friendly against Hartlepool shortly after 6pm on Wednesday evening as the news emerged that he is likely to be announced as Roy Hodgson’s successor following a Football Association Board meeting on Thursday.
Big Sam spent three seasons as a player with Preston North End in the twilight of his career between 1986 and 1989, returning to Deepdale as youth coach in 1992.
He had a two month spell as PNE’s caretaker manager when Les Chapman was sacked, holding fort until John Beck’s appointment – he then reverted to his coaching role with the club’s youngsters.
England is a dream appointment for Allardyce, who was beaten to the post by Steve McClaren 10 years ago.
His imminent departure from Wearside came just hours after FA chief executive Martin Glenn revealed the governing body was close to making a decision, but insisted it would not be rushed.
The Sunderland manager has been the bookmakers’ favourite ever since it emerged that he had held talks with the three-man panel - Glenn, vice-chairman David Gill and technical director Dan Ashworth - charged with the task of finding the new man after leaving the club’s pre-season training camp in Austria last week.
Discussions have also been held with Hull counterpart Steve Bruce, while Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann are also understood to have figured prominently on the FA’s shortlist.
Allardyce will face the task of picking up the pieces after a disastrous Euro 2016 finals campaign which saw England dumped out of the competition by Iceland in ignominious fashion.
However, his remit will be wider than just the senior international squad as the powers that be attempt to address the serial failure of recent decades with the 50th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup final success just days away.
Earlier in the day, Glenn had told Sky Sports News: “We’re not after a short-term mercenary, someone just to do the job for a couple of years.
“I want someone to come in to the England role to really work with not just the senior team, but to make sure all the great work with the under-16s, 17s, 18s - look at how well the under-19s are doing now - and to knit all that together.
“We want someone to do a great job for the England national team, but as well make sure all the development teams are laddering up to something more effective.”
Part of the process will also involve ensuring players at the highest level reproduce their club form when they pull on the England shirt, something which has not always been the case at recent tournaments.
Glenn said in a separate interview with BBC Sport: “The new manager has got to be someone who can inspire people to get the best out of themselves, build resilience and unashamedly adopt the kind of psychological techniques that other sports and other football teams have done, to really inspire people that when they put their England jersey on they play as well for England as they do for their club.”