Linfield’s No1 target Tommy Wright has ruled himself out of the running to succeed David Jeffrey at Windsor Park.
The former Northern Ireland goalkeeper is top of the Blues’ wishlist to replace Jeffrey – who announced on Saturday that he will stand down at the end of the season.
But despite senior Linfield officials targeting the St Johnstone boss, Wright admits the “time isn’t right” to return to the Irish League.
“I am flattered to be linked with a club I supported as a boy,” Wright admitted.
“People outside Northern Ireland might not understand that, but I know how big a club Linfield are.
“It is no secret Linfield is a club very close to my heart, but I am more than happy at St Johnstone. I am enjoying working in Scotland.
“I have a great job at a great club, working for a great chairman who is very supportive of me. We’re enjoying a very productive season.
“There has always been speculation linking me with the Linfield post and journalists have often speculated that I might be David’s eventual replacement.
“But times and circumstances change and at the moment I am happily managing in the SPFL.”
Linfield will now turn their attention to a number of other potential candidates.
Former Hibernian boss Pat Fenlon – who played for the Blues in the 1990s – is being strongly linked with the post.
Ballymena United manager Glenn Ferguson is also held in high esteem at Windsor but appeared to distance himself from the role at the weekend, while ex-Northern Ireland stars David Healy and Warren Feeney have also been linked to the job.
Jeffrey – who has won 30 trophies during a stellar 17-year reign at Linfield – announced on Saturday that he will stand down at the end of the season.
The bombshell news was greeted with shock throughout the Irish League, and Wright admits he was surprised to hear that the highly-decorated boss was stepping aside.
“I’m sure it took a lot of soul searching, but he will feel he has made the right decision, both for himself and Linfield,” Wright added
“He deserves the utmost credit and it will be the end of an era when he steps down in May.
“He has had to deal with the pressures of managing a club like Linfield, but his trophy record is remarkable. Year in, year out he has had Linfield competing at the top of Irish League football.
“In many ways, Linfield has been David’s life and he has put everything into the club.”
Wright has urged Jeffrey to remain in football.
The outgoing Blues boss insisted at the weekend that he will continue to be involved in the game – in what capacity, remains to be seen.
“I hope David stays in football management and I see no reason why he shouldn’t,” Wright said.
“Of course, he might want a break, but knowing the man, I suspect he will be keen to get a club as soon as possible.
“He will know the longer you are out of the game, the tougher it is to get back in. I’m sure he will take stock in the summer, but if an interesting or attractive offer presents itself, I’m sure he’ll go for it.”