One leading bookmaker has cut Clarke’s odds for the vacancy to 1-10 on after it emerged Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes, believed to be the leading rival candidate on the Scottish FA’s shortlist, has informed the Pittodrie club he would not take the post.
Clarke has been named Manager of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers’ Association for a second successive year after another hugely impressive season in charge of Kilmarnock.
The Rugby Park club are in contention to finish third in the Premiership and claim a Europa League spot. It is understood the Scottish FA will wait until Kilmarnock complete their campaign at home to Rangers on Sunday before it makes any formal approach to Clarke.
The 55-year-old has another year remaining on his contract at Kilmarnock but has made it clear he could move on in the summer as his family still live in England. His domestic situation would not be an issue for the Scottish FA whose last two managers, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan, both lived in England during their tenures.
Clarke now faces a period of soul-searching before making a decision on his future over the next fortnight.
“At the moment, the inside of my head is like a tumble dryer,” said Clarke. “No, I’m not any clearer about my future. The next couple of weeks are going to be very difficult for me and that’s all I really want to say about it just now.”
Clarke appears to be in pole position for the Scotland job after Aberdeen vice-chairman Dave Cormack revealed McInnes has informed him he is not ready for international management at this stage of his career and would reject any approach from the Scottish FA.
“Derek is very attracted to being Scotland manager at some stage, but not just now,” said Cormack.
“That’s a big plus for us as a club. Whilst Derek himself aspires to be Scotland manager at some stage, Derek’s made the decision that that time is not now – that he wants to focus on club football.”
Scotland under-21 coach Scot Gemmill and Sunderland manager Jack Ross are also believed to have been identified as leading candidates for the national team job by Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell who has been leading the recruitment process.
Maxwell hopes to be in a position to announce the new manager by the end of next week as Scotland prepare for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus at Hampden on 8 June and Belgium in Brussels three days later.