Gus Poyet has been approached by Reading to take over as their manager and he is set to hold talks with them after Brighton & Hove Albion, his employers, granted him the permission.
Reading, who sacked Brian McDermott last week, sit joint-bottom of the Premier League, seven points adrift of a safe position, and they hope that Poyet can be the manager to save them. They have eight matches in which to haul themselves above the cut-off.
Poyet has Brighton pushing for promotion to the Premier League – his team are separated from the Championship play-off places on goal difference – and he has been confronted by a difficult decision. But he knows that funds are relatively tight at Brighton on the playing side and the chance to work under Reading's Russian billionaire owner, Anton Zingarevich, is tempting.
Poyet was afforded his break in management by Brighton in November 2009, and he respects the way that the club has been run by the chairman, Tony Bloom, with particular attention paid to the academy and training ground. The club's Amex Stadium is state-of-the-art and attracts impressive crowds.
But Poyet has grown frustrated at his sense that he has needed to punch above the club's weight. He will ask himself whether Reading represent a smarter bet, even if Premier League survival was to prove beyond them this season.
Poyet established a reputation for having a keen tactical eye during his time as the assistant manager at Leeds United and then the first-team coach at Tottenham Hotspur and his star has risen at Brighton, whom he joined when the club were 20th in League One. He led them to safety and, in his first full season, he won promotion as the champions. Last season, in what was Brighton's first at the Amex Stadium, they finished 10th in the Championship.
Poyet, who is contracted until 2016, saw his odds on taking charge at Reading slashed on Wednesday, with Zingarevich overseeing the recruitment process. Zingarevich has given consideration to the former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins; Paolo Di Canio, until recently of Swindon Town, has also been linked to the vacancy. But Poyet has emerged as the No1 target.
McDermott was sacked after the 2-1 home defeat by Aston Villa on the Saturday before last, which was Reading's fourth straight defeat in the league. Under the caretaker, Eamonn Dolan, they lost again, at Manchester United, on Saturday. Their run-in features matches against Southampton, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Fulham and West Ham United.
"No-one is giving up," said the captain, Jobi McAnuff. "We've got eight massive games left and it doesn't matter who we've got, we'll show our pride and see if we can pick some results up. For us, it's about believing that we're good enough to be here and we really do believe that. We've earned the right to be here and we'll do our best to make sure that we stay up."