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Reports: “Sunderland have decided who will be offered the manager’s job” - is it Heckingbottom?

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A well-respected local journalist and a former Sunderland player have hinted that Sunderland are moving closer towards appointing Simon Grayson’s successor.

Barnsley v Millwall - Sky Bet League One Play Off Final Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

It has now been just over two weeks since Simon Grayson was sacked following our draw at the Stadium of Light with fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers - and, ever since, there has been very little in the way of concrete rumours regarding who will replace him in the Sunderland dugout.

With concerns growing about how quickly the club are choosing to replace the former Preston boss with someone new, it now appears that we may well be getting somewhere.

Well, that is if you take the words of former Sunderland Echo Argus Graeme Anderson seriously, of course - but we have no reason to doubt him.

In a message on his Twitter page last night, Anderson claimed that he had personally spoken to an unnamed candidate for the role that had confirmed to him that he wouldn’t be getting the job, and that the suggestion was that the club have already decided upon who the next man to take on the mantle of Sunderland boss will be.

Following the posting of the initial tweet, Anderson was asked questions about what he had heard - and he indicated that whilst he’s not aware of who it is, he has a couple of names in mind for who it could be.

Paul Heckingbottom would be the natural assumption to make, particularly as his name has been the most frequently mentioned of all the potential candidates in recent days.

Outlets such as Skysports and the BBC suggested yesterday that former Sunderland reserve team defender Heckingbottom was the name at the top of Martin Bain’s managerial wishlist, with the main positives for making such an appointment apparently being his decisiveness, ability to work on a limited budget and his fine record of developing young players.

Former Sunderland midfielder - and now football agent - Gordon Armstrong also tweeted last night adding to the speculation over who will be appointed, suggesting that he has been told from various sources that Heckingbottom has been given the job.

William Hill have the current Barnsley gaffer priced at 1/4 to take the role, and in truth nobody else even comes close when it comes to the bookies odds.

Rumours surrounding former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka taking over the mantle have gone quiet since he appeared on Twitter in a photo of him at Kings Cross station last Wednesday, but he remains the second favourite to take the post with most bookmakers.

Elsewhere, Michael O’Neill is another whose future has been speculated about in recent days, particularly since Northern Ireland crashed out at the play-off stage of the World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland on Sunday night.

But, with rumours suggesting that the Northern Irish FA want to talk with the ex-Newcastle midfielder about renewing his contract, it seems unlikely that he’d depart such a safe post in order to take over here at crisis-club Sunderland.

The most fervent rumour linking O’Neill with a move away from his position with the international side has been to Scottish side Glasgow Rangers, a job that perhaps would be less of a risk and more of a positive challenge for the well-respected Norn Iron gaffer.

All of the talk from last week surrounding lower league pair Paul Hurst and Nathan Jones appears to have quelled significantly, whilst - and whisper it quietly - former Sunderland striker Ally McCoist’s name continues to hang around like a bad smell.

Let’s see how this one unfolds over the coming days - though, I wouldn’t get your hopes up about an imminent appointment just yet, particularly if the last few weeks are anything to go by.

Heckingbottom may well be the name on everybody’s lips, but that isn’t to say that a deal has yet been done.