Wales manager latest: FAW ramp up Thierry Henry interest as Craig Bellamy firmly in mix

-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Wales' manager search has stepped up a gear in recent days, with the FAW said to be ramping up their interest in Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

He is by no means the only name in the frame, however, with Burnley caretaker boss and former Wales international Craig Bellamy also understood to be very much under consideration to take the role.

There are other names being discussed at length in the corridors of power at the FAW, too, however the two headline acts appear to be Henry and Bellamy at time of writing. Chris Coleman's former assistant and one of the bookmakers' early forerunners Osian Roberts, who helped Como to reach Serie A last term, is also on the list, however that looks unlikely at this stage.

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The FAW top brass is understood to be meeting potential candidates this week, however Welsh football's governing body has stressed it is in no rush to appoint a new manager, insisting their only priority is to get the right person in.

There is the looming qualification campaign for the 2026 World Cup in North America, however there is understood to have been emphasis placed on qualification for the 2028 Euros, which is set to be hosted in the UK.

Per UEFA's bid regulations, automatic qualification for host nations is guaranteed for only two associations. It is unclear which host teams out of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland will qualify automatically.

It could be that all five teams enter qualifying, with two automatic spots held in reserve for host nations who fail to qualify. Should three or more host teams fail to qualify, the spots could be awarded to the best-performing hosts.

Either way, qualifying for that tournament is a non-negotiable and the FAW have stipulated as much to prospective candidates. Indeed, in their job spec posted online last week, they demand a “proven track record of delivering success at club and/or international level” from applicants.

The FAW has not ruled out foreign coaches, as evidenced by Henry being in consideration, with a number of top potential managers having come through their feted coaching courses. The likes of Henry, Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira and Cesc Fabregas are all well-versed in the Welsh way.

Englishman Bobby Gould was the last non-Welshman to manage Wales with his four-year tenure coming to an end in 1999. Mark Hughes, John Toshack, Brian Flynn, Chris Coleman, Ryan Giggs and Page have held the position since.

As for some of the foreign coaches being considered, Henry has managed Monaco and Montreal Impact, worked with Belgium as Roberto Martinez’s assistant and, as France Under-21 boss, is currently preparing to lead his country’s Olympic team in Paris next month.

As such, he would be unavailable until after the Olympics has finished in August. Odds were recently slashed on him become Page's successor, now behind only Bellamy according to the bookmakers. There are also other international managers who could become available after the end of Euro 2024, which is another consideration for the FAW.

Vieira, 48, Henry’s former Arsenal and France team-mate, also fits the criteria after spells at New York City, Nice and Crystal Palace. He has spent the last 12 months in charge of Ligue 1 club Strasbourg.

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Toure is the most inexperienced of the trio, but the former Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder cut his coaching teeth in the Tottenham Academy and at Standard Liege in Belgium where he was assistant manager. The 41-year-old is currently on the Saudi Arabia coaching staff assisting manager Roberto Mancini.

The FAW accepts that it can not match the salaries paid by other national associations or European clubs, but believes the lure of trying to lead Wales to the next World Cup will be an attractive proposition.

Wales return to action on September 6 when their Nations League campaign gets under way against Turkey at home, with Iceland and Montenegro also featuring in the group.