Sunderland line up Zola as Di Canio successor

Sunderland will look to the Championship for a replacement for Paolo Di Canio, the Daily Mirror has reported, as the Premier League club turn to Di Canio’s compatriot, Watford manager Gianfranco Zola.

Zola is joined by the likes of Gus Poyet and Roberto Di Matteo on the shortlist as director of football Roberto De Fanti seeks a young manager willing to spend a lot of time on the training ground. De Fanti is also said to be close to his Watford counterpart Gianluca Nani, which could make a move smooth the way for an approach for Zola.

Di Matteo is said to prefer to wait for an opening at a bigger club while Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay is described as a surprise contender, but included on the short list as doubts persist over his long-term future in Wales under owner Vincent Tan.

Youth coach Kevin Ball is in caretaker charge for the next two games – both at home, first to Peterborough in the Capital One Cup and then Liverpool in the Premier League – as the Black Cats seek their third manager of the calendar year.

Martin O’Neill was dismissed to make way for Di Canio in March after a little more than a year in charge, while Di Canio was given 13 games – of which he won three and lost seven. The new man will be Sunderland’s sixth permanent boss in just over seven years.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland v Peterborough

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