Celtic boss Gordon Strachan is a the top candidate for the Sunderland job.

The Times says sources close to the selection process insist that Strachan, the Celtic manager, is the preferred candidate, although an official approach is yet to be made. Alan Curbishley, the former West Ham United manager, also retains a large degree of support.

With crowds of nearly 40,000, a state-of-the-art stadium and training ground but a perilous Premier League position, Sunderland are selling a dream of what might be in the hope that, having apparently squeezed all of the potential from his 3½ tenure at Celtic Park, the vacancy is attractive to the former Coventry City and Southampton manager.