Gus Poyet is set to be interviewed for the Sunderland job as he emerges as the new favourite to replace Paolo Di Canio.
As reported by Goal on Monday, Roberto Di Matteo had headed the club’s shortlist to become the new manager at the Stadium of Light.
But the former Chelsea manager is believed to have told Sunderland intermediaries that he has reservations about the post, which he regards as a step down from what he is qualified for.
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The club made contact with the Uruguayan at the start of the week and he withdrew from a series of planned media interviews on Tuesday in order to hold talks with Sunderland chiefs.
A formal interview is likely to be scheduled, which could end with Poyet being offered the chance to get back into football management following his bitter exit from Brighton.
The Wearside club had let it be known that they were in no rush to make an immediate appointment and were content for caretaker manager Kevin Ball to stabilise the squad over the next two games.
The long-serving former skipper and current Sunderland Under-21s manager has been placed in charge of the first team for Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup clash against Peterborough United and is also expected to be in the dugout for Sunday’s home match against Liverpool.
Sunderland sources have said that the board "want to leave a bit of distance" between Di Canio’s reign and the start of the new manager’s tenure, which could now begin at the start of next week if Poyet convinces American owner Ellis Short that he is the right man for the job.
The former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder is a free agent following his unedifying end at Brighton, which culminated in him being sacked while appearing live on television as a pundit.
Italian director of football Roberto De Fanti had targeted Di Matteo as his No.1 choice but has also given his backing to Poyet, who is regarded by Sunderland as a steady pair of hands following the abrasive regime of Di Canio, who was sacked on Sunday night with the club bottom of the table following a run of one draw and four defeats from their first five Premier League matches.
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