Sunderland have made an official approach for Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill to be their next manager, according to Sky Sports.
The 48-year-old is understood to be a target of the Scottish FA to replace Gordon Strachan, and the board at Ibrox as Rangers hunt for a new manager.
Sunderland are attempting to gazump both those institutions by asking the Irish FA for permission to speak with their head coach.
The Wearside club have been without a manager since sacking Simon Grayson on Halloween.
It is now being reported that the Sunderland board waited until Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualification campaign was completed before making their move.
O’Neill’s side exited at the play-off stage to Switzerland after losing 1-0 on aggregate.
Sunderland would have to pay more in compensation than either Rangers or the Scottish FA due to a sliding-scale release clause in the manager’s contract.