The English Football Association will consider Lionesses coach Sarina Wiegman as a candidate to take charge of the senior men's team if, or when, Gareth Southgate moves on from his role as manager, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said.
Wiegman has guided England to the final of the Women's World Cup in Australia -- they will play Spain in Sydney on Sunday -- just 13 months after leading the team to its first international title at Euro 2022.
The former Netherlands coach, who is contracted to the FA until 2025, is expected to be a leading candidate to succeed Vlatko Andonovski as coach of the USWNT following his decision to step down in the wake of the reigning world champions' round of 16 exit at the World Cup.
But having transformed the fortunes of the England women's team since replacing Phil Neville as coach in September 2021, FA CEO Bullingham said that Wiegman "could do anything she wants in football" while saying that he would consider a woman to manage the men's team.
"People always say it is the best man for the job or the best Englishman," Bullingham said on Thursday. "Why does it have to be a man?
"I think our answer is always: 'it's the best person for the job.' We think Sarina is doing a great job and hope she continues doing it for a long time. I think Sarina could do anything she wants in football.
"If at some point in the future she decides she wants to move into the men's game, that would be a really interesting discussion, but that's for her, right?
"I don't think we should view it as a step up. If she decides at some point in the future to go in a different direction, I think she's perfectly capable of that.
"It's the best person for the job, if that best person is a woman, then why not? You analyse the pool for any job at that particular time and do I think there's a really strong diverse pool of both men and women for any big national job?
"No, I think the talent pool is small for both actually. But I don't like the mindset that it has to be a man."
Southgate's contract as manager of the men's team runs until the end of Euro 2024, but he has said that he considered quitting the job following England's elimination at the quarterfinal stage of Qatar 2022.
Although the likes of Graham Potter, Frank Lampard and Eddie Howe are likely to be contenders to replace Southgate, who took charge in September 2016, there is no outstanding candidate in the men's game that can match Wiegman's recent track record when the England men's boss finally steps down.
No woman has been appointed as manager of a men's team in senior football -- Hannah Dingley was briefly in caretaker charge of EFL League Two side Forest Green Rovers during the summer -- but Bullingham said football is behind other sports in terms of female coaches.
"Do I think football is behind other sports in terms of lack of female coaches at the top level? I do, and I think that has to change," Bullingham said. "And also, do I think Sarina could do any job in football? Yes I do.
"I'm really happy with the job she's doing and I hope she stays doing that job for a long time.
"Sarina's doing the Lionesses and we think it's critical that she does that job, and she's doing a brilliant job. We don't like suggesting the men's team is above that. I know you weren't, but some people do suggest that.
"Sarina's doing a great job in what she's doing and we want her to keep doing that.
"If and when we get a vacancy in either of our senior men's or women's manager positions, we would go for the best person for the job, which would be the best person capable of winning matches."