Sunderland manager latest: Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom high on agenda as interviews start
Reports in the north east suggest that Heckingbottom, 40, has emerged as a leading candidate, having impressed the Stadium of Light board with his achievements at Oakwell on a comparatively small budget since taking over at his boyhood club, initially as caretaker, in February 2016.
The Wearsiders' search for a new manager has now entered into a third week, with the likes of former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka also strongly linked with the post along with ex-Rangers boss and Sunderland striker Ally McCoist.
Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain has reportedly begun the interview process, with discussions taking place with representatives of prospective interested parties in Manchester and Leeds - with academy boss Jimmy Sinclair also involved in the talks.
Heckingbottom spent four years at Sunderland as a youngster but never made a senior appearance and also spent a spell in his playing career in the north-east at Darlington.