PAUL HARTLEY last night emerged as the frontrunner for the Inverness job after the Highlanders were granted permission to speak to the Alloa boss.
The former Celtic and Hearts midfielder is expected to hold talks with Caley Thistle chairman Kenny Cameron today.
Inverness made their move having already spoken to other candidates including former Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels and ex-Hibs gaffer John Hughes.
Hartley is in pole position after an impressive start to his managerial career since taking up the reins at Recreation Park in May 2011. The 37-year- old has steered the Wasps to consecutive promotions and led his part-timers to fifth spot in the Championship.
The good work has not gone unnoticed by Premiership chairman and Inverness were quick to put him on their shortlist to replace Terry Butcher who made the switch to Hibs last week.
The Highlanders have not rushed into making an appointment after being bombarded by more than 50 applicants for the role.
But they intend to have the new man in charge before their Scottish Cup clash with Morton at the Caledonian Stadium on Saturday.
It is understood they hope to unveil the boss in the next 24 hours and for him to meet the players in the morning.
Hartley was remaining tightlipped last night as negotiations were set to get underway.
But Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney admitted his club would not stand in the manager’s way.
He said: “We never comment on any speculation about our manager’s position and other jobs. We would only say if a club came forward who we deemed appropriate and asked for permission to speak to him, we would say yes.
“That’s it. That’s the whole extent to where we are as a club. That’s our official position.
“We would give Paul consent to speak to any appropriate club.”
The former Scotland international has not hidden his ambition to manage at the top level with the Inverness job a plum gig as the Highlanders ride high in second spot in the Premiership and in the last four of the League Cup.
If Hartley does move North then Alloa will join Cowdenbeath and Morton who will be looking for new mangers.