Niall Quinn's search for the new Sunderland manager is hotting up amid Sam Allardyce's emergence as a major target.
Some bookmakers have suspended betting on the current Bolton boss being named as Mick McCarthy's successor at the Stadium of Light after two days of intense speculation.
Quinn told the Sunderland Echo: 'The selection of the next Sunderland manager remains a work in progress, but the reality is that there are three or four names that are in the frame at the moment and that are being considered.'
However, it is understood the 51-year-old is a genuine potential target for the ambitious Irishman, whose consortium launched their £10million takeover bid last Monday.
Allardyce has guided Wanderers into eighth, sixth and eighth places respectively in the last three Premiership seasons after masterminding their promotion from the Championship in 2001.
He was also linked with the hotseat at Newcastle after rejecting the chance to manage the Magpies back in 2004 when Graeme Souness was appointed, although chairman Freddy Shepherd did not make a second approach and turned to Glenn Roeder instead.
Allardyce was Sunderland captain for a season under Ken Knighton in the early 1980s and returned briefly as director of youth under Peter Reid.
However, he has four years of his 10-year contract at the Reebok Stadium still to run, and that could prove problematical should the Black Cats launch a serious attempt to lure him away.
The fact that Allardyce's name has been brought into the frame is a reflection of the status of the man Quinn is hoping to attract.
His interest in Martin O'Neill has been prolonged, although is looking increasingly unlikely to be fulfilled, while Alan Curbishley and Alex McLeish have also been linked with the club.