Former Sunderland defender Michael Gray believes former Fulham manager Mark Hughes would be the ideal replacement for Steve Bruce.

After nearly two-and-a half years in charge at the Stadium of Light, Bruce was sacked on Wednesday following six defeats from the club's first 13 Barclays Premier League, a start to the season that also saw them crash out of the Carling Cup to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Hughes, who left Fulham in the summer, has emerged as a leading contender for the position, along with ex-Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neil, and Gray hopes chairman Ellis Short sides with the Welshman.

"I played under Mark Hughes at Ewood Park and I loved it," he said. "I know exactly how he works and I think he would be perfect for what Sunderland need right now.

"He is a personality of real stature and has a fine coaching staff, who he takes everywhere with him. He is out on the training ground every single day and knows exactly what he wants from his players.

"Mark is astute tactically, a very hard-working manager and he gets the very best out of his squad, which is exactly what Sunderland need. Sunderland need results quickly and Mark would work those players like they have never been worked before.

"He would hit the ground running because that is the way he works. We finished sixth in the Premier League under him at Blackburn and a large part of this was because he had us so well prepared and so fit.

"In the last 15 minutes we used to overpower teams and we didn't fear anyone."

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Michael Gray