Sunderland are determined not to be rushed into replacing head coach Lee Johnson amid speculation that Roy Keane could be ready to return to Wearside.
The former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland skipper, who was manager at the Stadium of Light between August 2006 and December 2008, is understood to be among a series of potential candidates interviewed by the Black Cats’ hierarchy over the weekend.
The 50-year-old enjoys strong boardroom support, but owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and sporting director Kristjaan Speakman are not limiting their options and are also understood to have spoken to former Hull boss Grant McCann and ex-Preston manager Alex Neil.
Keane, who has not managed in his own right since leaving Ipswich in 2011, was giving nothing away as he carried out his television punditry duties this weekend, although fans at Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by League One strugglers Doncaster would have left him in little doubt as to their feelings as they showed their support for the former Black Cats boss.
Speaking through club channels before the game, Speakman insisted he and Louis-Dreyfus would take the time they need to make the right appointment.
He said: “At the moment, we’re speaking to all the people within the shortlist, looking at the pros and cons, sitting down with the board and the executive team, and making a decision on our next step.
“I think the great thing is everyone is really calm and patient about it. Naturally, having made a change, we’ve made the change with the view to putting someone in that space in a fairly swift period of time. But it’s all about getting it right.”
Interim boss Mike Dodds took charge for Saturday’s game, which left Sunderland two points adrift of second-placed Wigan, but having played four more games, with Rotherham six points clear at the top.
The Black Cats, who sacked Johnson last weekend following a 6-0 drubbing at Bolton, are currently in their fourth season in the third tier following back-to-back relegations.