A total of 142 people have applied for the England head coach’s job, with more than half meeting the criteria, says Baroness Campbell, the Football Association’s head of women’s football.
Phil Neville will leave the role next summer, so his replacement will be in charge for Euro 2021 and may also lead Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics.
After that, England are targeting World Cup success in 2023.
“We’ve had an unbelievable response,” said Baroness Campbell.
“I’m not judging it against what we’ve had in the past, it’s saying, ‘who has got the ability to take us right to the top of Everest?’
“We’re at the final camp – how do we get to the top of that mountain? That’s what my job is. To find that person for the players. They deserve the best and I want to get them the best if I can.”
Applications closed at the end of June, with Baroness Campbell saying last month that there had been “very, very good interest from significantly experienced coaches”.
Jill Ellis, who coached the United States to World Cup victories in 2015 and 2019, remains a favourite to succeed Neville, while Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, ex-Manchester City coach Nick Cushing and Manchester United’s Casey Stoney are among those in contention for the role.
The FA announced last month it would make 124 positions redundant, as it faces losses of around £300m caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Baroness Campbell says the women’s game “has taken its hit” but insists that their plans will not be adversely affected by a £75m per year budget cut.
“I’m afraid the reality is smaller budgets, smaller focus, smaller staffing,” she told Fair Play: The Women in Sport Show.
“What we’re talking about now is what do we stop, and how do we find different, creative ways to do some of the things we were going to do through funding.”
‘World-class appointment expected’- analysis
Tom Garry, BBC Sport
That so many qualified candidates have applied will be a big boost for Baroness Campbell and the FA, whose appointment of Neville received criticism, given he had neither applied nor had any previous managerial experience.
There had reportedly been 147 applicants from 30 different countries that time in 2018, but at least four of the FA’s preferred candidates pulled out of the process prior to them approaching Neville.
This time, there is an expectation that the role will be filled by one of the sport’s top coaches, with Ellis – born in England – the bookmakers’ favourite after stepping down from her role with the US in 2019.
The FA is understood to be confident of a world-class appointment, and England fans will expect nothing less, with their side having reached the semi-finals of the past three major international tournaments.
You can hear the full interview on Fair Play: The Women in Sport Show podcast, which is released on Thursday