Crystal Palace have held initial talks with Martin O'Neill and Tony Pulis as they step up their search for a new manager after last week's departure of Ian Holloway from Selhurst Park.
O'Neill, who has been out of work since being sacked by Sunderland in March, is understood to have spoken to the Palace co-chairman Steve Parish, who is overseeing the appointment process, on Sunday when the top flight's bottom club sought to gauge his interest in the position.
That meeting was followed by talks on Monday with Pulis, who had been earmarked as a potential candidate at the press conference to announce Holloway's departure last week.
There is an acceptance at Palace that both candidates, while immediately available, will need plenty of convincing if they are to take up the reins at the club. O'Neill, 61, had quickly emerged as Giovanni Trapattoni's replacement-in-waiting with the Republic of Ireland, even if the process of replacing the Italian, who was sacked in September, has dragged over recent weeks.
While it is now by no means certain that O'Neill will take the role with the Republic, his salary demands could prove a major stumbling block for both the national association and Palace.
Pulis, who has never been relegated over a 21-year coaching career, commanded a basic annual wage of more than £1.5m, plus hefty bonuses, at Stoke City who sacked him at the end of last season. He would be seeking a similar amount to take up the position in south London and that is well in excess of the salary commanded by Holloway over his 11-month spell in charge, which peaked in the return to the Premier League for the first time in eight years at Wembley in May.
Pulis has been considered by a number of clubs, including Sunderland, Derby County and Middlesbrough, this season but continues to keep his options open.
Palace's predicament – they have lost eight of their nine league games this season with a squad that was assembled hastily towards the end of the transfer window – will also come into the experienced pair's thinking.
As a result Palace are exploring their options, and the possibility of hiring a younger, up-and-coming coach to work in conjunction with a more seasoned director of football, preferably with extensive Premier League experience, has been mooted.
The caretaker manager Keith Millen, who oversaw Saturday's 2-0 home loss to Arsenal, is expected to be still in charge when the team visit West Bromwich Albion this weekend. The Wales manager, Chris Coleman, a former Palace player, has been discussed while the likes of Gary Megson and Alan Curbishley would be interested in the role. Gerry Francis and Steve Coppell – who each enjoy connections with the club – might be considered candidates for the director of football position if the club decide to take a longer-term view of the appointment.