LONDON: Roy Hodgson, the man who once said that even the Pope would think twice about taking the England job,is about to take that leap of blind faith himself writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The Football Association has been granted permission to speak with the West Bromwich manager and it is highly unlikely the former Switzerland and Finland national coach will turn down the opportunity to succeed Fabio Capello.

Two years ago, after England’s awful World Cup campaign in South Africa, Hodgson had been a potential replacement for the Italian. Capello and the FA decided then to carry on together and Hodgson joined Liverpool for an ill-fated spell blighted by the boardroom battleground.

Hodgson is, at 64, not exactly a potential long-term appointment but that label would not have applied either to initial favourite Harry Redknapp of Tottenham. With Euro 2012 around the corner, the FA appears to have decided that Hodgson’s tournament experience with the Swiss outweighed Redknapp’s claim.

Hodgson, temperamentally, is more likely to fit in with the overall ‘team ethic’ of work within the FA. Also, negotiating his exit from West Brom appears a less intimidating task than prising Redknapp out of the prickly defensive clutches of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. Hodgson’s contract at The Hawthorns was due to expire in June anyway.

FA chairman David Bernstein said: “I’m grateful to West Bromwich Albion for their co-operation in allowing us to approach Roy, with whom I have since spoken. Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set-out soon after Fabio Capello’s departure.

“Further conversations will now take place with Roy and my Club England colleagues before any further announcements can be made.”

The move marks the beginning of the end of a tortuous process, which began on February 8 when Capello quit in protest at not being consulted over the decision to strip John of the England captaincy.

Albion chairman Jeremy Peace said: “Roy has done a fantastic job over the past 15 months and the fact the FA want to discuss the England role with him is testament to that. Roy is a proud Englishman and we can understand why he wants to speak to the FA about this highly-prestigious managerial position.

“However, we have emphasised to Roy how much we would like him to remain as our head coach and continue his major contribution to our project at the Hawthorns as we look to establish ourselves as a Premier League club.

“Everyone here has an excellent working relationship with him and he is immensely popular with our supporters.”

Hodgson worked successfully abroad in management with Sweden’s Malmo, with Switzerland – whom he guided to the finals of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 – Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

At club level Hodgson led Fulham to the final of the Europa League in 2010.

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