THE Scottish Football Association are set to scour the world in their search for a new Scotland manager in the coming weeks after sacking Alex McLeish yesterday.

Scot Gemmill, the Scotland Under-21 manager, and Steve Clarke, the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant who has impressed greatly during his two seasons in charge of Kilmarnock, have been installed as the bookmakers’ favourites to take over.

READ MORE: Why Scotland fans owe Alex McLeish their gratitude

Elsewhere, Malky Mackay, the SFA Performance Director, Davie Moyes, the former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, and Gordon Strachan, who McLeish succeeded last year, have all be touted as possible contenders for the vacancy.

However, the governing body, who announced yesterday morning that McLeish would be leaving his post with the national team with immediate effect due to the disappointing start his side has made to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, haven’t ruled out appointing an overseas coach.

Berti Vogts, the German World Cup winner who led Scotland to a Euro 2004 play-off place despite having a troubled two-and-three-quarter year reign, remains the only foreigner to hold the position.

But senior SFA officials, who are hoping to have the new man on board in time for the Group I double header against Cyprus at home and Belgium away in June, are open to the possibility of bringing another non-Scot on board.

Slaven Bilic, the former Croatia manager who has been out of work since being sacked by Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia back in February, has also been mooted as a potential candidate.

The SFA announced yesterday morning following a scheduled meeting of the board at Hampden that McLeish’s turbulent 14 month reign had come to an end and that his assistant coaches Peter Grant, James McFadden and Stevie Woods would also leave their roles.

The Tartan Army reacted angrily to a 3-0 loss to Kazakhstan in their opening Group I match in Nursultan last month.

The SFA board members are conscious of a growing apathy among supporters ahead of the crucial meeting with Cyprus at Hampden – a match the national team must win to stand any chance of finishing in the top two in their section and qualifying automatically for next summer’s finals.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to place on record my thanks to Alex and his backroom team for their efforts in leading the national team over the past 12 months, not least in topping our UEFA Nations League group and reaching the play-offs.

“The decision to part company was not an easy one, especially given Alex’s status as a Scotland Hall of Fame member, earning 77 international caps, having played in three World Cups and taken charge of the national team for two spells.

“It was only taken after full consideration by the board and after an honest and respectful conversation between myself and Alex earlier in the week.

“Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year – and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan – did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more.

“With that in mind, it was agreed that we would seek to recruit a new management team to take us forward for the remainder of European qualifying campaign.”

He added: “At this point I would like to pay tribute to Alex for the good grace with which he has accepted the decision and for remaining unstinting in his support of the team for the remainder of the campaign. It befits his status as a Scotland legend and Hall of Fame inductee.

“We firmly believe we have the potential to recover from the opening group defeat and unlock the potential of this exciting squad of players for the remainder of the campaign, safe in the knowledge we also have the play-offs as an additional route to UEFA Euro 2020.

“With Hampden Park one of the host city venues for the 60th anniversary of the European Championships, we are determined to ensure our supporters can watch the national team participate in UEFA Euro 2020.

“Alex, Peter, James and Stevie leave with our best wishes for continued success in the future.”

McLeish said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success.

“I am proud that together we finished top of our UEFA Nations League group and qualified for the UEFA Euro 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.

“I am also pleased to have given many younger players a first taste of international football that will stand them – and the country – in good stead for the future.

“I would like to thank those players who showed a passion for wearing the dark blue, my assistants, Peter, James and Stevie, for their contribution over the past year. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the entire national team backroom staff and my friends and colleagues at the Scottish FA.

“Finally, I would like to thank the Scotland fans for their unwavering support of the team and look forward to taking my place among them in the future.”