The Under-21s coach does not see the benefit to his career of taking up an role that would allow the Football Association to search for other candidates, despite chief executive Martin Glenn publicly claiming Southgate would be a "pretty obvious" stop-gap.

It represents a significant setback for the FA on day one of their search and comes with other potential candidates being distanced from the job.

FA chairman Greg Dyke has also questioned why anyone "would want" to be England manager.

Southgate was approached before Euro 2016 about taking on an interim role for the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign if England flopped and Hodgson was forced to quit. The former England defender was wary of that scenario then and, despite not being contacted since, remains of the opinion that it is not the path he wants to go down.

England's first qualifier is away to Slovakia on September 4 and Southgate feels that a bad result would damage his reputation.

The fact that the FA sees him as a stand-in means that even if he won matches with the senior side he would eventually be asked to step aside. He does not feel he is ready to be national coach permanently.

Southgate has a year to run on his contract and is focused on leading the U21s to European Championships in Poland next summer, when he will seek to build on last month's success in the Toulon Tournament.

If he does not renew his contract, he is likely to pursue a move back into club management having previously been in charge of Middlesbrough.

The caveat would be if the FA lean on him in the absence of alternatives and he feels a responsibility to his employers.

The size of the task facing the FA in finding Hodgson's replacement is beginning clear.

Former France manager Laurent Blanc has emerged as a contender with FA vice-chairman David Gill, who will join Glenn and technical director Dan Ashworth in leading the search, having trumpeted his claims when at Manchester United.

Blanc has just left Paris Saint-Germain but knows English football from his spell at Old Trafford and guided France to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Yet others are falling by the wayside.

Brendan Rodgers will stay at Celtic, West Ham co-chairman David Gold distanced Slaven Bilic from the job and former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood, who appointed Arsene Wenger said the Frenchman would be too old.

"I want him to stay at Arsenal," said Hill-Wood. "He is not a young chicken. He is 66 and he would be 67 when his contract is up and turn 69 a few months after the World Cup. It is quite senior to be in that sort of role."

Adding to a farcical start to the search was Dyke, who reiterated the FA's commitment to find the "best man" before adding: "The harder question is why anybody would want it?"

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