Favourite for Sunderland job Mick McCarthy spotted in the North East

Mick McCarthy.
Mick McCarthy.
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Mick McCarthy, the favourite for the Sunderland AFC job, has been spotted in the North East today.

The former Ipswich Town and Sunderland manager is the leading contender with bookmakers to replace Chris Coleman in the Stadium of Light hot seat.

And he has been pictured in the region today, at the Travelling Man pub in West Boldon and also at the Cooper BMW garage nearby.

McCarthy is reported to have been in the region on pre-planned personal business and not to speak with SAFC about the job, though he is understood to feel he has unfinished business on Wearside from his first spell.

McCarthy was installed as the early favourite soon after Coleman was sacked on the morning of one of then most remarkable days in the club's history.

Coleman and Kit Symons were released from their contracts, which had two years left to run, just moments before it was announced that a consortium fronted by Eastleigh FC chairman Steward Donald had agreed to buy the club from Ellis Short.

Follow our live Sunderland AFC blog here.

Before Coleman’s arrival last year 59-year-old McCarthy said he would jump at the chance to return to the club.

Speaking last year he said: "Maybe if I was out of contract... Oh yeah, if I was out of contract, and I was free and available, then yes I’d go back in a heartbeat because I loved my time there.

"But I’m not out of contract, I’m not free and available, so no I wouldn’t be going back."

McCarthy, who is now available after his departure from Ipswich, boasts a formidable record at Football League level and oversaw Sunderland’s return to the Premier league in 2005.

He left the following season with the club badly struggling to survive.

Donald’s own personal wealth is modest by footballing standards but he is backed by an international consortium, believed to include Spanish investors among others.

The deal will now be subject to EFL approval and Donald will have to relinquish control of National League side Eastleigh to comply with ownership rules.

Follow our live Sunderland AFC blog here.