Sunderland are poised to make their first move for Wigan manager Steve Bruce to replace Ricky Sbragia as manager.
Bruce has emerged as one of Niall Quinn and Ellis Short's first choices for the vacancy at the Stadium of Light but Wigan's demand for compensation - reported to be up to £5million - could kill any deal.
Quinn and new owner Short are still drawing up a short list for the vacancy and Bruce is one of the most experienced Premier League managers who could be available.
Gordon Strachan, Jurgen Klinsmann and Frank Rijkaard are other names under consideration by the ambitious Stadium of Light board.
Bruce has established himself as a top Premier League boss after transforming Wigan into a mid-table side after taking over from Paul Jewell.
Sbragia walked away from Sunderland after they sealed their top-flight place on the final day of the season despite a home defeat against Chelsea.