Steve Bruce has emerged as the odds-on favourite with leading bookmaker Sky Bet to be named as the new manager of Sunderland.
Wigan boss Bruce has earned a reputation as one of the most talented English managers in the Premier League after his work with the Latics and previously at Birmingham.
The former Manchester United defender, who moved to the JJB Stadium from St Andrews in November 2007, guided the club to an 11th place finish in the Premier League this season.
Sunderland are in the market for a new manager following Ricky Sbragia's announcement that he was standing down after guiding the Black Cats to Premier League safety despite a final day defeat by Chelsea.
Bruce started his touchline career at Sheffield United before moving on to Huddersfield with an initial eight-game spell at Wigan followed by roles with Crystal Palace and then Birmingham.
Sky Bet make Bruce the 8/13 odds-on favourite to be appointed by the Wearside outfit, with former Celtic boss Gordon Strachan the only other serious contender in the reckoning at 2/1.
Northumberland-born Bruce is a self-confessed supporter of Sunderland's bitter rivals Newcastle and has been linked with the St James' Park hot-seat in the past.
But with the Magpies now in the Championship and keen to secure Alan Shearer's services on a long-term contract, that role holds less appeal.
Chairman Niall Quinn admitted after Sbragia's decision to stand down that they were looking to appoint a big-name manager, with American investor Ellis Short expected to provide substantial transfer funds once his prospective takeover is completed.
Wigan supremo Dave Whelan has previously mentioned Bruce as a future Manchester United or England manager and it remains to be seen what his opinion would be should his manager make the move to the Stadium of Light.