Sunderland are narrowing down their shortlist for a new boss with Barnsley’s Paul Heckingbottom the new favourite for the role.
Former Rangers chief Ally McCoist was the number one target for chief executive Martin Bain, who they had hoped might form a team with Walter Smith.
However, Sunderland owner Ellis Short is understood to have over-ruled Bain when it comes to McCoist – insisting they look elsewhere, making it unlikely the former Black Cats striker could be returning to the club.
There does appear to be more chance of another former player coming in though, in-the-shape of Heckingbottom – who spent a number of years in the Sunderland academy, although he never played in the first-team.
Heckingbottom has built an excellent reputation for himself at Barnsley, competing on a very limited budget – which is likely to be a major plus point when it comes to Sunderland, given the circumstances he could find himself in at the Stadium of Light.
Luton’s Nathan Jones is another who has been discussed at length in the corridors of power at the club and is someone who they like, as is Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill.
Former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is another who Sunderland like, but the chances of the Spaniard working under a restricted budget looks highly unlikely at this stage.