The Scottish Football Association has been granted permission to talk to Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill regarding its' vacant manager's position, Press Association Sport understands.
O'Neill has been the SFA's first choice to succeed Gordon Strachan since October, when it was confirmed back-to-back failed qualification campaigns would trigger dugout change.
That is exactly why SFA chief executive Stewart Regan wants to lure the 48-year-old to Hampden.
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There is no guarantee that O'Neill, pictured, will agree to leave his post but the development represents a significant step forward in what has at times felt like a tortuous process.
An official approach came in November and after a compensation package was agreed, O'Neill looks set to meet the SFA next week.
He steered them to second place behind Germany in a World Cup qualifying group that included the Czech Republic and Norway, only to lose out on a place at the finals in Russian Federation after a 1-0 aggregate loss to Switzerland in a play-off.
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Scotland are prepared to make O'Neill the highest paid manager in their history but the offer is still likely to be dwarfed by Northern Ireland who have already tabled a six-year deal worth a reported £750,000 per annum.
Any deal to O'Neill himself will show a significant boost to the £500,000 per year terms as given to Strachan but a long way short of the £1m a year salary as speculated from Northern Ireland when Switzerland emerged victorious from a World Cup play-off between the pair.
The draw for the Uefa Nations League will take place in Lausanne on 24 January and O'Neill is due to be there with Northern Ireland but the SFA hope to persuade him to jump ship before then.
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