Sunderland have begun making contact with candidates to replace Steve Bruce as manager, with Martin O'Neill at the very top of their list.
Press Association Sport understands an initial approach was being made to the Irishman who, along with Mark Hughes, are the leading contenders for the vacancy created by Bruce's departure last night.
O'Neill has been out of football since leaving Aston Villa in acrimonious circumstances in August last year, while Hughes parted company with Fulham in June.
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