Martin Bain admits he wants a new manager in place ‘as quickly as possible’ - with Simon Grayson and Derek McInnes the frontrunners for the Sunderland job.
Bain is in charge of the finding a replacement for David Moyes, who stepped down as the Black Cats’ boss two weeks ago.
The chief executive is determined to carry out a diligent process as he searches for a manager tasked with leading the club through a rocky period after relegation to the Championship.
Bain, who has consulted with ex-Rangers boss Walter Smith, has drawn up a shortlist, with Aberdeen manager McInnes the long-term favourite for the post.
However, Bain is keen to speak to a number of managers, and is considering Preston North End’s Simon Grayson, along with Garry Monk, Nigel Pearson and others.
Bain refuses to be rushed, but is expected to hold interviews with candidates this week as he hopes to appoint a new man well before the players return for pre-season training on June 29.
Bain said: “The recruitment process is ongoing.
“Pre-season is an important period at any football club so naturally we are keen to conclude things as quickly as possible, whilst being mindful of the need to make the right appointment.”
Grayson’s odds reduced dramatically over the last 48 hours. The former Leeds and Huddersfield boss has done a sterling job at Preston, guiding them to 11th in the Championship on a shoestring budget.
Sources close to the 47-year-old were staying tight-lipped last night, but it is understood he would be keen on a move to Wearside, though he is happy at Preston where he has been for four years.
McInnes remains the favourite, it is understood that former Scotland boss Alex McLeish has thrown his hat into the ring as well.
McLeish, who has Championship experience from his time at Nottingham Forest, has experience of working with limited resources and believes he could rebuild the Sunderland squad.
Monk has returned from a break in Dubai after his shock resignation at Leeds, and is odds-on favourite to be the new Middlesbrough manager.
However, the 38-year-old is keeping his options open and is prepared to speak to Sunderland about their vacant position.
Whoever gets the Black Cats job, they will be taking the squad out to Austria for a pre-season training camp, before travelling to Gigg Lane to take on Bury in their opening pre-season game on Friday, July 7 in their opening pre-season fixture.
The players will return to training on June 29 for initial fitness testing before the first team and the under-23s travel to Austria for five days.
“Preparations for the new season are progressing well and our full plans for pre-season are close to being finalised,” Bain added.
“The first team and the under 23s will spend a week together in Austria, which signals a much more joined up approach to the pre-season preparations.
“It is something that the club hasn’t done previously, so it will give the young players a great opportunity to train alongside their senior counterparts and experience the intensity required at first-team level.”