Robbie Stockdale on Sunderland job, Simon Grayson's sacking and his managerial aspirations

Stockdale alongside Simon Grayson during the 2-1 defeat against Bristol City
Stockdale alongside Simon Grayson during the 2-1 defeat against Bristol City
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Robbie Stockdale insists he has no guarantees a win at Middlesbrough on Sunday will put him and fellow caretaker boss Billy McKinlay in line for the permanent position.

The pair were asked by chief executive Martin Bain to take control of first team affairs on Wednesday, with the club thought to be seeking an experienced candidate to be appointed in the international break.

An external arrival would of course leave Stockdale and McKinlay’s futures in doubt but the 37-year-old believes the clash with his former club is a perfect distraction.

He said: “No, not at all [guarantees if they win]. When they asked myself and Billy to take this game, the sole focus was on this game.

“What happens after that, happens. But I certainly don’t want any discussions to distract the mind, all we are doing is preparing as best we can.

“I’ve had absolutely no discussions about what is going to happen.

“I made it clear when I spoke to people on Wednesday, I only want to focus on this game.

“It is hard enough to get your head around what has happened this week without looking ahead any further," he added.

“I think the game actually makes things much easier. I think it gives you a clarity of mind to say, I can’t control anything else, the uncontrollables are there but what can I control? Well, preparing for Sunday. In a roundabout way you use that to just really focus on the game."

Stockdale has admitted he was shocked by Grayson's sudden departure after the 3-3 draw with Bolton but is confident that the players have the determination to put things right.

He said: "Yes, I don’t think you ever prepare for things like that.

"It’s not nice. The dust has settled and the good thing is that you are back into training, and that takes your mind off it.

"It’s disappointing any time that kind of thing happens. Really all we can do is use the game on Sunday as a new focus.

"It’s a brilliant game – if I could choose a game, it would be this one.

"There’s no way that we won’t be ready for it.

"Tuesday night was a bit of a shock," he added.

"We came in Wednesday and let it ride a little bit, then Thursday was their pre-planned day off, then this morning we spoke to the players and there was a determination from them to put things right."

While Stockdale would not be drawn on whether he hopes to be considered as Grayson's replacement, he admitted that he does hope to pursue a career in management eventually.

He said: "I think every coach would eventually like that shot, yes.

"I get asked it quite a lot [want to be a manager]. Setting out on my career, I started out quite early because of injury, I started out at Grimsby as an Academy manager. It was the best grounding I could ever have had, very limited facilities, limited staff, you end up jack of all trades, groundsman, kit man, working with every age group from the U9’s.

"If you’d asked me about my ambition then it would be different to what it is now, I think in football I’m very fortunate, my role has changed under every manager. Some are very hands on, some delegate, which is fine. I don’t think you can have a dead-cert, I want to that in football, you know your situation can change tomorrow. You just try and do the best you can, I want to give everything I can in every role and if it takes me to the next level then so be it."

The former Middlesbrough defender has seen a period of dramatic change since his arrival at the club in 2012, and believes that despite the team's current struggles, whoever does succeed Grayson will have plenty of positives to inherit.

"Well I see a club that was in the Premier League for an awful long time, until the relegation last year, of course we struggled, but not many clubs would swap that the yo-yo’s they’ve had for our stint," he said.

"The relegation was such a disappointment, I didn’t expect to see a hangover and the first few games suggested that there wasn’t, we started fairly well. It’s very difficult to put your finger on.

"What I would say is that I think we’ve got good quality in the dressing room, good characters, some young players that play without fear, there’s plenty of positives still at this football club."