CHRIS Wilder is the hot favourite to take over as Coventry City manager.

The Oxford United boss’s odds were yesterday slashed to 5-4 to replace Andy Thorn in the hot-seat at the Ricoh Arena, having been as high as 50-1 last week.

The Sky Blues are understood to be preparing to make an official approach to Oxford for permission to speak to their manager.

And it appears United chairman Ian Lenagan will have a battle on his hands to keep Wilder, with npower League Two club Chesterfield also reportedly interested in trying to lure the 44-year-old away from the Kassam Stadium to fill their vacant manager’s position.

Richard Shaw is in temporary charge at Coventry following the dismissal of Thorn last week.

But while he was fancied by many to land the job on a permanent basis, the Sky Blues’ disappointing 1-0 defeat at Crewe on Saturday has increased speculation that they will look elsewhere for their next manager.

And Wilder ticks many boxes, with the cash-strapped club having said that they need a manager who is happy to work with a restricted budget – as United’s boss did when he first took over – as well as somebody who has good knowledge about the lower leagues.

Those factors, along with the terrific progress that Oxford have made under Wilder during his nearly four years in charge, has alerted clubs of his capabilities.

Wilder, who joined United in December 2008 and signed a new three-year deal in September 2010, would not comment when asked about the rumours last night.

Under his stewardship, the U’s have risen from the depths of the Conference to the upper echelons of League Two.

They topped the table going into Saturday’s match at York, but a 3-1 defeat – their first league reverse of the season – leaves them third.

Wilder was happy with his side’s display at York, but frustrated that individual errors ended their 100 per cent start to the campaign.

He said: “It’s nine points out of 12, but it should have been 12 out of 12.

“I don’t want to take anything away from York, but we really beat ourselves up.”

Despite the setback, United remain just one point off the top of the table.

Wilder said: “We have to take it on the chin and move on. “We weren’t jumping around when we won the first three games and we’re not going to all of a sudden destroy our beliefs now.”