Chris Wilder in talks over new deal at Sheffield United
He began the afternoon rated at between 6/1 and 8/1 of being Sunderland's new manager but those odds are drifting quickly after news emerged that Chris Wilder has begun talks on a new deal with Sheffield United.
Wilder was said to be near the top of the Black Cats' shortlist as they continue their quest to appoint a successor to David Moyes. In the wake of Derek McInnes turning the Sunderland job down last week, Sky Sports suggested the Blades boss would be invited for discussions at the Stadium of Light.
But reports this afternoon suggest the 49-year-old will be offered an improved deal for his exploits in returning Sheffield United back to the Championship. The Blades appointed Wilder in 2016 after he won League Two with Northampton.
Wilder began his managerial career in non-league football with Alfreton Town and Halifax Town before joining Oxford United and then Northampton.
With the hunt for a manager largely on hold at Sunderland pending the outcome of takeover talks, it's nigh on impossible to predict the identity of who the new boss may be.
As at this afternoon, the now-usual suspects of Simon Grayson, Nigel Pearson and Kevin Phillips linger in the top-three in the betting stakes.
A rogue Alan Pardew still sits on 12/1 thanks to an odd looking article in the Daily Star last night which claimed the Fulwell73 / Tony Adams consortium would seek to appoint the former Newcastle boss, despite them ruling themselves out of buying Sunderland more than 24 hours ago.
Downing told he can leave Middlesbrough for free
Former England midfielder Stewart Downing has been informed by new boss Gary Monk that he can leave Middlesbrough this summer on a free transfer.
That news will set a host of clubs on alert as to the availability of the 32-year-old who has been linked on-and-off with former club Sunderland for some time.
Downing was supposedly told in January that he was free to speak to other clubs but in the end 'Boro opted to keep hold of the experienced winger as they attempted to stay in the Premier League.
With the former Liverpool man settled in the North East, he might fancy another shot at life at the Stadium of Light having turned down Sunderland in favour of Middlesbrough two years ago.
Downing spent six weeks at Sunderland as a 19-year-old under Mick McCarthy in England's second-tier. That was season 2003-4, the campaign which ended with Play-Off semi-final penalty agony against Crystal Palace. In fact it was that long ago, baggy strips were still in fashion.
Bury on the telly
Sunderland's Carabao Cup tie with Bury has been moved to Thursday August 10 and will be shown live on Sky Sports.
More than 4,000 tickets are expected to be allocated to the Black Cats so the League One club can benefit from a significant rise in revenue from traveling Mackems.
Bury boss and former Sunderland midfielder Lee Clark revealed the two clubs discussed scrapping the pre-season friendly planned for 7th July but confirmed to the Bury Times it will still go ahead:
When the draw was made we did speak to Sunderland and discussed the friendly but we decided to go ahead with it as it is a good fitness exercise
Sunderland will be just coming back from a training camp and it is the day before we go on ours.
It will be a maximum of 45 minutes for the players with lots of changes, which means there will be a lot of good players on show.
And Clark isn't anticipating that Sunderland will have a manager in place by that early July game:
When the cup tie comes around it will be completely different because they will have a different management team and possibly a different squad.
Sunderland are the highest ranking team you can get at this stage so it was a great draw for us. They have fantastic fans and should bring big numbers.
Tickets for the pre-season friendly went on sale earlier in the week and are priced at £10 for adults, with tickets for under 23s and over 65s costing £5. Tickets for children under five are free of charge. Sales can be completed online, by telephone or at the ticket office.