Malky Mackay would end an absence of more than six years from club football if he lands the Ross County job.
Mackay has been out of work since leaving his role as the Scottish FA’s performance director in November, just days after the national team had qualified for this summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
It ended a four-year stint in the position for Mackay, who had been tasked with overseeing the strategy for developing young talent into future international players.
That remit has been Mackay’s only post since his last spell in management, which was a brief stint at Wigan Athletic that came to an end in April 2015.
His short time at the Latics came shortly after an investigation alleging he sent text messages containing discriminatory language while he was in charge at Cardiff City.
That prompted opposition to his appointment from Wigan fans, however, it was his on-field struggles which led to his departure as a record of 19 points from a possible 72 saw him sacked in April 2015.
After apologising for his actions concerning the text messages, and undergoing equality and diversity training through an education programme with the FA, Mackay has never hidden his ambition to return to football.
Having served in his senior SFA role in recent years, it would appear the 49-year-old is now craving a return to the dugout as speculation grows he could be named as John Hughes’ replacement at Dingwall.
Mackay’s first management job came at Watford in 2009 when he replaced Brendan Rodgers at Vicarage Road, although he had briefly been caretaker the previous year.
It followed a successful playing career as a central defender which ended with the Hornets, and also took in spells with Celtic, Norwich City and West Ham United, earning the Bellshill-born player five Scotland caps.
In two seasons with the Hornets, Mackay oversaw 16th and 14th-placed finishes in the lower half of the English Championship, but did enough to catch the eye of Cardiff, who appointed him in June 2011.
It proved to be his most successful spell as a manager thus far, with an impressive debut season seeing Cardiff reach the League Cup final only to lose out on penalties to Liverpool. The Bluebirds also clinched a promotion play-off spot, but fell short in the semi-finals against West Ham.
That laid the foundations for an even more successful campaign the following year, however, with Mackay leading Cardiff to the Championship title.
The Welsh club did not make a smooth start to their first Premier League season, with an increasingly fractious relationship with owner Vincent Tan leading to his dismissal in December 2013, at a point when the Bluebirds sat just above the relegation zone.
He was linked with a return to Premier League management with Crystal Palace, but the knock-on effect of the text message allegations appeared to end that chance.
Although his shot at redemption proved unsuccessful at Wigan, his switch to an upstairs role at the SFA has not prevented him from being linked with a return to the dugout.
In November 2017, Mackay took interim charge of the Scotland national team for their 1-0 friendly defeat to Holland at Pittodrie following the departure of Gordon Strachan, and was thought to be keen on the permanent job before being ruled out by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan.
Dundee United were also granted permission by the SFA to speak to Mackay last summer, prior to the appointment of Micky Mellon at Tannadice.
Mackay is now unemployed though, meaning he is readily available to Staggies chairman Roy MacGregor. A switch to Dingwall would see him reunite with County first team coach Don Cowie, who he worked with at Watford, Cardiff and Wigan.
With Cowie having been tipped as a future Staggies manager, the prospect of him linking up with an old mentor in Mackay could be one that appeals to MacGregor.