SUNDERLAND are closing the net on appointing a new manager and have reduced the list of contenders in the hope of getting a deal tied up by the end of the week.

Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes and Preston’s Simon Grayson are the front-runners. Nigel Pearson and Garry Monk, both under consideration at Middlesbrough, are among those to have also been seriously discussed.

The Black Cats’ chief executive Martin Bain has stepped up his search to name David Moyes’ successor over the last few days, after initially taking time to reflect and come up with a way forward.

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Bain is understood to have started the interview process and has identified the main contenders for the job.

McInnes has been high on the list from the moment Moyes resigned after the defeat to Chelsea on the final day of the Premier League season on May 25.

The 45-year-old Scot was recommended to Bain by former Rangers manager Walter Smith and has been under strong consideration since. Another Ibrox great, Graeme Souness, has also been used as a sounding board by Bain.

McInnes had 16 months in charge of Bristol City in the Championship before taking over at Pittodrie and he has made them the second best team in Scotland behind the dominant Celtic.

But Grayson has emerged as a genuine contender for the job and Sunderland are giving him careful consideration having impressed during his spells in charge of Preston, Huddersfield and Leeds United. He led all three to promotion from League One.

The 47-year-old was born in Ripon and grew up in Bedale, North Yorkshire, and still has strong family links to the area. He has worked wonders at Deepdale since taking over in February 2013. His brother Paul heads up Durham University's cricket operation.

After keeping them up after initially taking over, he led Preston to the play-off final the following year before going one better 12 months later when they beat Swindon at Wembley. He guided them to 11th last season in the Championship.

Both McInnes and Grayson are also the favourites with the bookmakers, while ex-Leeds boss Monk and former Leicester manager Pearson have been under serious consideration. The latter are free agents and have been the leading contenders for the Boro job.

Boro chairman Steve Gibson is still to decide on who to hand the managerial reins at the Riverside. Steve Agnew, the former Sunderland player, is also still in the frame having taken over for the final 11 matches from Aitor Karanka.

Karanka lost his job in March but Gibson has surprised fans by taking such a long time to replace him on a permanent basis. Monk remains the favourite on Teesside.

Bain admitted on Monday that he was looking to make an appointment at Sunderland as “quickly as possible” and that will then allow the new boss to make decisions on players’ futures.

Fabio Borini is known to be attracting clubs from Italy as well as Celtic. There are also players’ contracts to decide on with the likes of Seb Larsson and John O’Shea among a clutch whose deals are expiring.

The new manager will at least takeover knowing the pre-season schedule has had a number of fixtures confirmed.

Sunderland will start their preparations with a five-day training camp in Austria after reporting back on June 29.

They play at Bury on Friday, July 7 (7.30pm) before heading to take on Hibernian on Sunday, July 9 (2pm) and Livingston on Wednesday, July 12 (7.45pm). Sunderland will also travel to Scunthorpe United on Wednesday, July 26 (7.30pm) with further games will be announced.