West Brom are to step up their bid to secure head coach Roy Hodgson's successor after a month of interviewing and sounding out potential candidates, Press Association Sport understands.
Birmingham boss Chris Hughton remains high on Albion's list of preferred targets although the expected official approach to speak to the former Newcastle boss has still to be made. Hughton came close to being appointed 16 months ago before new England head coach Hodgson became available after his dismissal by Liverpool.
But there are other candidates in contention with the Baggies expecting Blues to fight hard to keep hold of Hughton who is operating on a 12-month rolling contract. Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is keen to return to the Premier League, and has been interviewed twice by West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace.
But Fiorentina are also being linked with the 60-year-old Italian who left Stamford Bridge eight years ago.
Ex Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder Ray Wilkins and former Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick were spoken to last week by Albion but are not thought to be front-line contenders.