EX-RANGERS boss Dick Advocaat IS the leading contender to take charge of Sunderland on a short-term basis if Gus Poyet is sacked, the Echo understands.
The vastly-experienced Advocaat is the bookies favourite to succeed Poyet after being linked with the post since reports emerged last night that the Black Cats were ready to make a change in the dug-out.
It is understood that the speculation is genuine and Advocaat is at the top of the list to keep Sunderland in the Premier League over the final nine games of the campaign, before the club reassess their options in the summer.
Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton knows Advocaat through his ex-Hamburg colleague Frank Arnesen, who worked under the 67-year-old at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
Advocaat has been out of work since leaving his post in charge of the Serbian national team in December.
And while he has never managed in the Premier League before, the Dutchman has won league titles in Holland, Scotland and Russia, together with spells in charge of the Netherlands, UAE, South Korea, Belgium, Russia and Serbia national teams.
Current head coach Poyet remains at the helm and took charge of training today, as usual.
But Saturday’s appalling defeat to Aston Villa have led the club to consider Poyet’s position, with talks due to take place with the Uruguayan.