Colin Cooper believes Middlesbrough are making plans for life after Steve McClaren.
Boro boss and England number two McClaren is reported to have had a second interview with Football Association chiefs this week with regards to succeeding Sven-Goran Eriksson as England manager.
McClaren has seen the odds of him getting the national team job slashed in recent weeks on the back of Middlesbrough’s success in the UEFA and FA Cups following a woeful period when the club were threatened with relegation.
McClaren is now favourite with bookmakers, overtaking Martin O’Neill in the betting and leaving Charlton’s Alan Curbishley and Bolton’s Sam Allardyce trailing.
Veteran Boro centre-back Cooper said: “I would be very surprised if there are not things going on behind the scenes.”
McClaren only recently signed a new long-term contract with Boro, taking him up to 2009, and Cooper is hoping he does not leave.
“It is obviously a massive coup for Middlesbrough if our manager gets the England job,” added Cooper on bbcsport.co.uk.
“But I think we are all hoping he is still our manager next season.”
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney admitted last night that his club are preparing for the possibility of Curbishley being named the new England boss, while Bolton manager Sam Allardyce said today he remained committed to the club despite also being linked with the national team job.
Varney said: “We have to look out for the future of Charlton. With the length of time the whole process is taking, we’ve taken steps to make sure we know which direction we want to go in if Alan Curbishley is the actual choice at the end of the day.”
Allardyce told his club’s official website, www.bwfc.co.uk: “I would like to reassure everyone connected with Bolton Wanderers that my immediate priority is to scour the length and breadth of Europe in the search for quality players that will improve our squad over the coming seasons.”