Roy Keane has reportedly held his first formal discussions regarding the managerial vacancy at Sunderland.
The 50-year old is widely regarded as the frontrunner to replace Lee Johnson, who was sacked following last week's 6-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers.
The Wearside club sit third in the League One table, and will have Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor in temporary charge for Saturday's visit of Doncaster to the Stadium of Light.
Keane has been out of management since leaving his role as assistant to Martin O'Neill after an ineffectual five months at Nottingham Forest.
His last solo management gig saw him spend nearly two years in charge of Ipswich Town, a job he left in January of 2011.
Outside of his deputy duties with O'Neill, the last real offer of a management job came from Azerbaijan in the summer of 2020.
Speaking to David Walsh in The Times late last year, Keane admitted to there being an itch to return to management.
"There are days where I look back on my time in Sunderland and think I did enough, Ipswich didn’t work out but there were good things there," he said, "If I was somebody else looking at my CV, I’d be going, ‘Why doesn’t he get another opportunity?’
“Is my name tarnished in boardrooms? Who knows? People say you have to play the game? I don’t know that game."
Grant McCann - who was sacked by Hull City in January - is also in the running for the Sunderland position, with ex-Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi an outside contender.
When asked about the managerial position at Sunderland, the club's sporting director Kristjaan Speakman told the club's 'Unfiltered' podcast, "We have a really clear criteria on the type of head coach that we want to work for the club, what the requirements are of that individual, and what we are judging them against.
"Naturally we are running a succession plan for that position so we have been tracking coaches over the last year, not because of anything underhand - any top business would have a plan on who would be their next chief exec, who's head of sales, who's going to come through.
"We have internal members of staff but it is a big bridge to jump to go on and be a head coach, certainly for a club the size of Sunderland, but we are also looking at who is out there who matches up with our style of play, who is progressing, who could come in and add value to our football club.
"When the position becomes vacant, other members of the football community pop up and there are others to consider who you might not have considered because you weren't sure whether they were available etc.
"You have merge all that into the right process, to make sure you come out with the best decision."