Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom has emerged as the leading candidate to fill the Sunderland hot seat.
Heckingbottom distanced himself from the role when quizzed about being linked to the job before the international break.
At the time the 40-year-old said: “Apart from you asking me about it now, it’s not even in my head”.
The Black Cats’ board are about to begin the interview process after axing Simon Grayson last month.
Heckingbottom spent time at the Stadium of Light early on in his career, but failed to make a first-team appearance for the club.
The odds of the former defender heading up north have been slashed and he is now the bookies’ favourite to land the role, ahead of Aitor Karanka and Ally McCoist.
But, no approach has been made between the club and Heckingbottom as things stand.
Heckingbottom is on a 12-month rolling contract at Oakwell and is happy at the club.
He has previously stated: “Over the years, whether I was a kid, a player, a coach, or working with the first team, there’s been umpteen opportunities to go elsewhere. But I’ve always chosen to stay here, and that’s been down to me at the time. Everybody knows what I think of the place.”
However, Barnsley could become a victim of their own success.
Much like important players, everybody has a price and Sunderland would be able to offer Heckingbottom more than Barnsley could afford to pay.
The success Heckingbottom has had with one of the smallest budgets in the league has not gone unnoticed by the Sunderland board - and he was in the running after David Moyes’ departure.
Heckingbottom wants to build a squad at Oakwell, one which he can help develop and get stronger with each passing transfer window.
And he has the chance to do that now, having bought in a number of young, talented players in the summer.