Wigan Athletic boss Steve Bruce has reportedly been given permission to speak to Sunderland about the managerial vacancy at the Stadium of Light.
Bruce, who only took the reins at the JJB Stadium 18 months ago, is believed to be the number one choice of the Sunderland boss to replace Ricky Sbragia.
Sbragia stepped aside after keeping the Black Cats in the Premier League last weekend.
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Bruce admitted to being flattered by reports linking him to the Wearsiders.
The former Birmingham City, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United boss said: "There's always speculation and you cannot stop that - it is very flattering.
"But I'm very, very pleased with what's happened with us and I'm quite pleased with what's happening in the future, so we'll see what develops."
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has already revealed the Black Cats are keen to make a high-profile appointment following their brush with the drop this season.