No approach for ex-Sunderland duo as Stewart Donald takeover awaits EFL approval

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Kevin Phillips and Alex Rae have not been approached to replace Chris Coleman as Sunderland boss, with the Black Cats’ prospective new owners waiting on EFL takeover approval before appointing a new manager.

Sunderland legend Phillips had been touted as a possible successor, with Rae as his No.2.

Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips

But the Echo understands that suggestions Phillips has been identified as the main target are wide of the mark, with the new owners still waiting to hear whether their takeover has EFL approval.

A consortium led by Eastleigh owner Stewart Donald has agreed a sale with Ellis Short, with the final hurdle being league approval, with no exact timescale for a decision.

Ex-Sunderland and Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy remains the favourite and it is understood he would be keen on a return to the Stadium of Light.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder and Leicester City No.2 Michael Appleton, who both have links to Donald through Oxford United connections, are both credible contenders, with Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook another name in the frame.

Phillips, Sunderland’s record post-war goalscorer, has been clear that he wants to manage the club some day, telling the Echo in 2015: “At some point in my career, I’d love to come back here and manage, but, at the moment, it’s a learning curve for me.”

Currently settled in the Midlands, Phillips is on the coaching staff at Derby County.

Former Sunderland midfielder Rae also has a strong connection with the club, but the Echo has learned that he has not been approached.

We do, however, also understand that he would be open to a return to Sunderland, in some coaching capacity.

Rae, who has regularly returned to Wearside since leaving for Wolves in 2001, has experience in management, having had spells in charge of Dundee and St Mirren.

He has also been assistant to Paul Ince at Blackpool and Notts County, as well as to Alex McLeish at Belgian side KRC Genk.

Rae said recently that he thought that former team-mate Phillips would be perfect should Coleman depart. The ex-Wales boss was sacked on Sunday ahead of the takeover announcement.

Rae said: “If Chris goes, or the board decide to let him go, then I think the person who could change it around for Sunderland is someone like Kevin Phillips, who has a very good relationship with the supporters – who are quite disillusioned at the moment.”