Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner says he will not stand in the way of Martin O’Neill becoming the next England coach, if he is approached by the Football Association.
O’Neill has been tipped as a possible successor to Steve McClaren after England’s defeat in Russia left them struggling to reach next year’s Euro 2008 finals.
“I would not stand in his way,” said Lerner.
“Obviously, they would be interested in Martin because of the way he has handled himself at Aston Villa.”
Villa have made an impressive start to this season under O’Neill.
Lerner added: “I have no doubt that he could be a highly successful national coach.
“I think what Martin has undoubtedly is very difficult to define – passion to lead and passion to compete. He is able to express his ideas very effectively and in a way which is very compelling.
“Martin is integral to our plans for Villa. If he left, it would leave us needing to get to work pretty quickly I suppose – but it is something I have never speculated upon.
“It is not unthinkable but is something you do not want to spend too much time on because it’s not something you can prepare for. It would have to be dealt with if and when it happened.”
O’Neill is one of a number of managers linked with the England job, should McClaren be dispensed with at the end of the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. One report suggests former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho would be interested in the post, while ex-Germany boss Jurgen Klinsmann is also regarded as candidate.
Experienced Italian duo Marcello Lippi and Fabio Capello are currently available and the latter has made no secret of his desire to one day manage the England national team.