Phil Parkinson and Gareth Ainsworth are now Sunderland’s two options with the League One outfit moving away from Nigel Pearson and Paul Cook.

Phil Parkinson and Gareth Ainsworth are now going head-to-head for the Sunderland job with the Northern Echo claiming that the race has been narrowed down to two clear front-runners.

The Black Cats sacked Jack Ross a week ago but owner Stewart Donald is apparently expecting to have a new manager in place sooner rather than later with an appointment set to be made public within the next 24 hours.

It is common knowledge that Donald wants a coach with a proven track record in League One and both Parkinson and Ainsworth fit the bill. The former took Colchester United and Bolton Wanderers to the Championship and the latter has turned unfancied Wycombe into promotion contenders on a shoestring budget.

It is claimed that Sunderland’s new manager, who should be appointed by Thursday, will be either Parkinson or Ainsworth.

Interestingly, the report points out that Daniel Stendel, who finished second in the third tier with Barnsley in May, has been overlooked because he was only recently sacked by The Tykes with Sunderland feeling he might need more time away from the game to gather his thoughts.

Nigel Pearson, meanwhile, wasn’t keen to drop down to League One while Sunderland were denied the chance to speak to Paul Cook of Wigan Athletic.

The same problem shouldn’t emerge with Ainsworth. Wycombe have acted admirably by making it clear that they won’t stand in Ainsworth’s way should the long-serving coach be handed his big break at the Stadium of Light.

Parkinson, meanwhile, is a free agent after leaving Bolton at the start of the season.

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