The Craven Cottage and ex-Riverside bosses are wanted at Villa Park.
Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner has identified Mark Hughes and Steve McClaren as the two leading candidates to replace manager Gerard Houllier.
Lerner and his chief-executive Paul Faulkner have learned Hughes’ rolling one-year deal has yet to be triggered for another season leaving him open to an approach.
The Daily Mail reports if the Welshman does not activate the extension in the next 24 hours he is officially a free agent.
McClaren is also in the frame having been out of work since Wolfsburg sacked him last February. He was linked with the West Ham United job but turned it down as he wanted a Premier League club.
Should neither men want the job Lerner has his eyes on Everton’s David Moyes, Wigan’s Roberto Martinez and ex-Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The Villa Park hierarchy are currently under negotiation with Houllier about his pay-off, with a dispute emerging as to if he has been dismissed for ill-health or sacked for his poor performance.
The first task any new manager will have to undertake is establishing the futures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, who are targets for Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.
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