Who is Jack Ross, why are Sunderland interested and what happens next? The lowdown on St Mirren boss

Sunderland's managerial search will move up a gear this week as Stewart Donald takes charge on Wearside.
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Donald is on Wearside this morning meeting staff at the club and familiarising himself with his new surroundings.

His deal is expected to be officially completed shortly, probably as soon as today.

St Mirren boss Jack RossSt Mirren boss Jack Ross
St Mirren boss Jack Ross
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With a significant turnover of players expected this summer, appointing a new boss swiftly will be key and it will be a top priority for Donald.

He had been monitoring Chris Wilder's situation at Sheffield United but the former Oxford United boss biq looks certain to stay on Bramall Lane.

That leaves Jack Ross and Paul Hurst as the top two contenders for the post.

Hurst has a play-off final with Shrewsbury Town on Sunday, and so no talks could be held in the near future.

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Ross, however, will be weighing up a major decision in his career.

Here, we run down his career so far and take a look at the state of play.

Who is he?

Ross is one of most highly-rated managers north of the border after a stunning spell at St Mirren.

The Buddies looked doomed for relegation before he took over in October 2016 but he steered them to safety before storming the division this season.

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He won praise both for his attacking football and his work with young players, something which has not gone unnoticed on Wearside.

The 41-year-old has been a man very much in demand, turning down Dundee last summer. He was also wanted by Barnsley following the departure of Paul Heckingbottom, but opted to stay and see through the campaign.

What is the state of play?

Sunderland have been impressed by Ross and Wilder's decision to stay at Sheffield United will only strengthen their interest.

However, the situation is complicated by Ipswich Town, who are also very keen on appointing the former Hartlepool defender.

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He is thought to be the top target to replace Mick McCarthy at Portman Road, and they have the obvious draw of being able to offer Championship football and a bigger budget to work with in terms of signing players.

Owner Marcus Evans is regarded as one of the more patient owners in football and so Ross may feel that it is an excellent opportunity to move into the English game.

What has he said?

Ross spoke about his future last week and suggested that he was open to the idea of staying at St Mirren and leading them into a Premiership campaign.

He said: "I have always tried to be frank and honest but that (Ipswich) is something I am not willing or able to comment on at the moment.

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“There is always a danger in football that people take it as a sign of disloyalty or that you are not doing your job properly.

“Those who know me will know I have spent every day at Ralston (Saints’ training ground) since the season finished trying to make sure we are in as good a place as we can be for next season. As things stand that is where I will be next season. The club is waiting to have communication with them (Ipswich). I have always been relaxed about it simply because I enjoy this job so much.

“I am excited about the fact we have a Premiership season to look forward to. That excites me as a manager because it gives me that freshness.

“The pathway to England is one players and managers want to take because of the huge resources available down there – but I am a big advocate of the game up here," he added.

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“The recent attention and profile the Scottish game has received through the likes of Steven Gerrard’s appointment at Rangers as well as the Hibs v Rangers game at the weekend highlights the fact there are good things happening up here. There are good players and managers operating in Scotland and we should embrace that more.

“I’ve never had preconceived ideas about how I would want my career to go other than the fact I would like to be Scotland manager one day.

“That’s romantic for me. I always wanted to play for Scotland when I was a young boy. Now you hear young boys saying they want to play in the English Premier League. For me, the ultimate as a manager would be to manage my country. But beyond that it has only ever been about doing the job I’m in to the best I can.”

So what happens next?

Ross will weigh up his future this week, torn between staying in Scotland or taking the gamble of heading south.

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If he does that, Ipswich will clearly be in pole position but Sunderland may hope that the club's facilities prove tempting.

Should he opt against the Wearside move, Paul Hurst will be a strong contender and Donald will likely have to cast the net wider.

Alex Rae currently leads the betting with Bolton Wanderers boss Phil Parkinson also linked.