Tommy Burns was backed into the role of firm favourite to become Scotland's new manager after the Scottish Football Association announced they had drawn up a shortlist for the job.The 51-year-old former Celtic manager, who is currently head of youth and a first-team coach for the Parkhead side, could be among the contenders for the role although the SFA have refused to identify the names in the frame. Alex McLeish's resignation as Scotland manager in November left SFA chief executive Gordon Smith with the task of identifying suitable candidates to replace the new Birmingham boss. A spokesman for the SFA said: 'We are still on course for a January appointment. 'We have identified a shortlist and will be looking to speak to people as soon as we can.' If Smith has decided Burns is a contender, it will be a remarkable turnaround. Burns looked to be a strong contender in January last year when Walter Smith resigned as Scotland boss to return to Rangers. He had been on the Scotland staff under both Smith and Berti Vogts, and was keen to take the top job in his own right, but withdrew from the running in frustration when the SFA made no contact with him. Changes at the top of the national body, with George Peat replacing John McBeth as chairman and Gordon Smith coming in for David Taylor, should mean there is no lingering ill-feeling. However there are other managers who may be preferred after the interview stage, with Mark McGhee, Craig Levein, Billy Davies and John Collins also strongly linked. Of those, McGhee and Levein are in work with Motherwell and Dundee United respectively; Davies and Collins are seeking new challenges. Gordon Smith recently revealed he had 'at least six or seven' candidates in mind to succeed McLeish, but his shortlist is expected to feature fewer names. Interviews could begin this week, but the SFA will not take a financial gamble on a new boss. McLeish was thought to be on a contract which would have earned him around £400,000 per year, and the new manager is likely to be offered similar terms. For the likely candidates that is nevertheless a substantial financial package, even if it seems unlikely to make the job attractive enough to lure the likes of Everton boss David Moyes. Scotland's failure to qualify for any major championship since the 1998 World Cup affects the budget for the manager, and any compensation the SFA recoup from Birmingham for the loss of McLeish is unlikely to be ploughed back into the next manager's pay packet. The SFA have already appointed a new Scotland Under-21 boss, with Billy Stark leaving his position with Queen's Park to take up the role. They have been careful not to rush the process of identifying a new manager for the senior team, however. And the SFA are determined to keep their list of candidates private. SFA president Peat last week stressed the association would be careful with their approaches to managers in work, wary of upsetting too many clubs by requesting permission to speak to bosses.