Sunderland want Michael O'Neill to be their next manager

Sunderland yet to approach Barnsley over managerial target Paul Heckingbottom

It has been a nightmare season for the Black Cats so far with just one win in 16 Championship games and they are now rooted at the bottom of the league table with the very real prospect of relegation to League One looming ever larger.

However, Press Association Sport understands Bain is still pondering a range of options for an appointment he simply can not afford to get wrong after David Moyes and Simon Grayson both presided over disastrous spells at the Stadium of Light.

However, Sunderland owner Ellis Short is understood to have over-ruled Bain when it comes to McCoist - insisting they look elsewhere, making it unlikely the former Black Cats striker could be returning to the club.

Insiders revealed Heckingbottom is barely on a six figure salary at Barnsley and the Sunderland money will be impossible to refuse despite their problems.

BARNSLEY head coach Paul Heckingbottom has rapidly emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant managerial position at Sunderland - who are set to offer him a massive pay hike in a bid to lure him to Wearside. Their win over Oxford was Barnsley's first appearance in a cup final since 1912 and earned him the award of Sports Hero of the Year by The Yorkshire Post.

Robbie Stockdale is now in sole caretaker charge after his fellow caretaker Billy McKinlay left to join David Moyes at West Ham on Sunday.

Sunderland face Millwall at home this weekend as they battle against relegation with Robbie Stockdale now in caretaker charge.

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