Billy Davies has rejected the chance to take over at Blackpool, paving the way for the Scot to return to the City Ground for a second spell as Nottingham Forest manager. Davies has emerged as the clear frontrunner for the Forest post, which became vacant when Alex McLeish departed on Tuesday after only 40 days in charge, although it is unclear at this stage whether an agreement will be reached with him before Saturday's Championship game at Bristol City.

Forest's owners, the Hasawi family, are under pressure to bring in a popular manager to placate the supporters in the wake of McLeish's exit, which has raised further concerns about the club's direction since they took over in the summer.

Although Davies clashed with the former board and was not everyone's cup of tea during the two and a half years he spent in charge at the City Ground prior to his dismissal in June 2011, there is respect for his achievements on the pitch, which saw Forest reach the Championship play-offs in consecutive seasons only to lose in the semi-finals.

Davies has been out of work since his exit from Forest and there is a sense that he will relish the chance to return to a club where he has spoken in the past of having "unfinished business".

Should Forest fail to make an appointment before the weekend, Fawaz al-Hasawi, the club's chairman, has confirmed that Rob Kelly will lead the team as caretaker manager at Bristol City, where, in an intriguing twist, Sean O'Driscoll, McLeish's predecessor at the City Ground, will be in the home dug-out.

Nigel Adkins is among the other names that have been in the frame for the Forest position but any move for the former Southampton manager would be problematic, not least because he has yet to agree a settlement with the Premier League club following his dismissal last month. Even without that barrier, it is questionable whether Adkins would be willing to put his reputation on the line and work with owners who are looking for their fourth manager since taking over the club in July.

Davies had held talks with Blackpool on Monday with a view to taking over from Michael Appleton at Bloomfield Road but Karl Oyston, the Championship club's chairman, issued a statement confirming that the former Derby manager had decided to purse another opportunity.

Oyston's statement readon Wednesday : "I would like to place on record that the club met and discussed the manager's position with Billy Davies on Monday evening. Contrary to speculation I can confirm that the meeting concluded with both parties agreeing to speak again on Tuesday. I spoke with Billy on two occasions yesterday and he has decided to follow another opportunity, which is a decision we fully appreciate and understand."