Dave Jones has been identified by West Bromwich Albion as their most desirable choice to take over as manager.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager is now in charge of Cardiff City and has taken the South Wales club to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship.

Jones claims to know nothing about speculation linking him with the position - "I've turned up for work as usual and I don't know where these stories come from," he said - but he has not ruled out a move to The Hawthorns.

I understand that Jones has a clause in his contract allowing him to take up a new job if he considers it to be appropriate. This would mean that Albion would not have to pay Cardiff compensation - an attractive proposition given Albion's tight monetary policy.

Albion are narrowing down their search for a replacement to Bryan Robson, who left the club "by mutual consent" on September 18.

Wales confirmed that John Hartson, the Albion striker, will not be joining up with the squad for the Euro 2008 qualifying in Cardiff against Cyprus tomorrow.

John Toshack, the Wales manager, contacted Hartson on Monday to discuss the player's availability. Hartson had made himself available for international duty after initially retiring.

He was not considered for the match at home to Slovakia at the Millennium Stadium three days, which Wales lost 5-1, because neither player nor manager believed he was fit enough.

Hartson, who spent the weekend working as a TV pundit in Scotland, has played just 45 minutes of football in three weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Toshack watched that short run-out in Albion's home win over Leeds United ten days ago and then had a lengthy chat about the future with Hartson, who has won 51 caps and retired last February from international football.

His most recent appearance for Wales was the 1-0 friendly defeat to Cyprus in Limassol last November.

But the end product of the discussions with Toshack on Sunday are believed to be that Hartson still does not consider himself fit enough for Wales and is better served playing in a reserve-team match this week.

Instead, Toshack may well give David Cotterill, the Wigan Athletic striker, a first competitive starting role for his country.