Aston Villa will step up their pursuit of Norwich City boss Paul Lambert after Roberto Martinez pledged his future to Wigan Athletic.
Owner Randy Lerner is pressing ahead with his managerial search and has turned his attentions firmly towards the Scot, who is the clear bookies favourite to land the vacant role.
Lambert’s advisors have already been contacted but Villa will need permission from the Canaries before they can speak to the highly-regarded manager.
The former Champions League winner has been on Villa’s shortlist, along with Martinez, since Alex McLeish was sacked at the end of the season.
But the 38-year-old Spaniard decided to stay loyal to the Latics after discussions with chairman Dave Whelan on Wednesday so is now out of the running.
Martinez had been locked in talks with Liverpool for the past week but Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers is now set to take charge at Anfield.
Whelan also confirmed there will be no need to talk terms with Martinez.
“There will be no adjustment to his current deal,” he said.
Despite Lambert now emerging as the top target there is still a chance of an outside candidate but the Villa hierachy are keen to wrap it up in the next few days.