Dean Richards looks set to return to rugby by taking over at Newcastle Falcons next season.
The 1989 and 1993 Lions No8 is currently serving a three-year suspension as a result of the Bloodgate scandal.
Richards was banned from the sport in mid-August 2009 after admitting encouraging wing Tom Williams to fake a blood injury in Harlequins’ Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster that April.
The ex police officer was given special dispensation to work in an advisory role with Worcester in 2010 but has otherwise stayed away from the game.
But with his suspension now only having five months to run, Richards is being heavily tipped to take over from Gary Gold at Kingston Park next season.
Gold is only on a six-month deal with the Falcons following the sacking of 1997 Lion Alan Tait and is expected to return to his native South Africa at the end of the season.
That would open the door for Richards to be reunited with former Leicester colleague John Wells, who joined the Falcons coaching set up along with fellow England World Cup coach Mike Ford part-way through the current campaign.
Newcastle are currently eight points adrift at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership but Richards’ return does not appear to be determined by whether they stay in the top flight or not next term.
Falcons owner Semore Kurdi is expected to make a formal announcement on the coaching position at the end of this week.