Roy Keane has hinted that he could become Sunderland manager again and suggested the next few days will determine whether he returns to the Stadium of Light.
Keane has been linked with returning to the club he managed between 2006 and 2008 and led into the Premier League.
Asked about speculation that he was actually on Wearside on Friday, Keane told ITV while working as a pundit for Manchester United’s FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough: “I’ve no control over that, so no comment.
“But I’ve made it clear over the last few years I’d like to go back as a manager.
“Of course a club has to want you, you have to want to go to that club.
“Just as important the contract has got to be right. We’ll see how things take shape over the next few days.”
Sunderland sacked Lee Johnson in the wake of last Saturday’s 6-0 defeat at Bolton, and with the Black Cats third in Sky Bet League One.
Mike Dodds has been placed in interim charge for this weekend’s home clash with bottom-of-the-table Doncaster amid speculation linking Keane, Neil Warnock, Jonathan Woodgate and Neil Lennon to the vacancy.
The PA news agency understands 50-year-old Keane, the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland skipper, is at the top of Sunderland’s list.
Keane, then 35, was initially appointed Black Cats boss in August 2006 with the club lying one place off the foot of the Championship table.
He guided them to the title as champions by the end of the campaign and Sunderland finished 15th in the Premier League in their first season back.
But as his relationship with owner Ellis Short deteriorated he resigned in December 2008 after 27 eventful months at the helm.
Keane has since managed Ipswich and worked as an assistant manager with Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.
He has also carved out a successful career as a television pundit for both ITV and Sky Sports.