Aston Villa are to step up their efforts to make Norwich boss Paul Lambert their new manager, Press Association Sport understands.
Villa are finally set to make an official approach for Lambert as they look to find a successor to the sacked Alex McLeish, though should reports which emerged on Wednesday night that he has quit Carrow Road prove accurate, the waters may be muddied.
Lambert has guided the Canaries to two successive promotions and established them in the Barclays Premier League last season, but it is understood Norwich are preparing to rebuff any such an approach and fight hard to keep the Scot, who has been operating on a rolling contract at Carrow Road.
Villa only avoided relegation from the Barclays Premier League by two points and had significantly to reduce their wage bill after debts of more than £50million for the year ending May 2011.
Villa owner Randy Lerner is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky in terms of replacing McLeish.
He held talks with former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he opted to stay at Molde in Norway for family reasons - although he was not formally offered the Villa post.
Villa also spoke with advisers of Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who had initially rejected the chance to replace Gerard Houllier 12 months ago.
But Latics boss Dave Whelan has claimed that Martinez, who held talks with Liverpool, is staying put.