COLORADO RAPIDS manager Anthony Hudson has been included on a five-man shortlist to take charge of Sunderland.

Incoming owner Stewart Donald has appointed an external third-party group to help with process of appointing Chris Coleman’s successor at the Stadium of Light.

Donald cannot make any formal moves until his takeover is ratified by the Football League, a process that could take up to a fortnight, but the Oxford-based businessman has begun the process of planning for what is certain to be a hectic summer.

His first big decision will be the identity of Sunderland’s new manager, and he has been working with an external group to come up with five viable candidates.

Hudson is the surprise name on the list, and the 37-year-old is joined by Chris Wilder, Michael Appleton, Paul Cook and Kevin Phillips.

A former trainee with West Ham United, Seattle-born Hudson is the son of Alan, who played for Chelsea and Arsenal before finishing his career with Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League.

As a player, he spent a brief spell with Dutch side NEC Nijmegen after he was released from Upton Park, and an unsuccessful playing career ended with US lower-league side Wilmington Hammerheads. However, the former midfielder has seen his profile soar since he moved into coaching.

He started his coaching career under Harry Redknapp at Tottenham, and briefly managed Newport County before moving into international football with Bahrain.

His reputation was enhanced significantly when he moved on to New Zealand, where he won the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, thus qualifying the All Whites for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

He left his post in charge of New Zealand after his side lost to Peru in a two-legged play-off for a place at this summer’s World Cup finals, and has been managing MLS side Colorado Rapids since last November.

He is regarded as one of the most exciting young coaches in the MLS, although his Rapids side currently sit in ninth position in the Western Conference, nine points adrift of leaders Sporting Kansas City.

He is currently contracted to Colorado, and Sunderland’s new owners would have to pay compensation to appoint him at the Stadium of Light.

That is true of the majority of the candidates on their five-man shortlist, with Wilder currently in charge of Sheffield United, Appleton working as the assistant manager at Leicester City and Cook having just led Wigan Athletic to the League One title. All three candidates are highly-regarded, and significantly, all three are aged 51 or under.

Wilder is currently managing in the Championship, but has expressed reservations about the limited budget he is having to work with at Bramall Lane. He has had a number of run-ins with the Sheffield United hierarchy this season, and is understood to be receptive to the idea of exploring alternative options.

He led the Blades to promotion from League One last season, and has successfully guided his hometown club to the brink of the Championship play-off places this term.

Appleton is currently working as assistant manager at Leicester City, although his position could be vulnerable with Claude Puel believed to be close to the sack.

A former manager at Portsmouth, Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers and Oxford United, Appleton is well known to Hudson thanks to his time in charge at the Kassam Stadium.

As well as owning National League club Eastleigh, Hudson, who is a lifelong Oxford fan, bought a ten per cent stake in the Us in 2015.

Cook has enjoyed considerable success with Wigan this season, but may feel he has taken the Latics as far as he can without a significant cash injection.

Phillips, who is the least experienced of the candidates currently under consideration, is currently employed as part of the coaching staff at Derby County, but boasts a strong bond with Sunderland having enjoyed a hugely successful playing career on Wearside.

He has previously spoken of his desire to take on a managerial role at the Stadium of Light, and has been touted as part of a possible managerial team that could also feature another former Sunderland player, Alex Rae.

Meanwhile, Wahbi Khazri has admitted there is very little chance of him returning to play with Sunderland in League One next season.

The Tunisia international, who is set to line up against England in this summer’s World Cup, has enjoyed a successful season at Ligue 1 club Rennes, and while his loan deal is due to come to an end later this month, the size of his wages means Sunderland’s new owners will be desperate to move him on permanently this summer.

“My future? I’m only loaned to Rennes by Sunderland, but hey, it would surprise me that I stay in my club because Sunderland goes down to Division Three,” said Khazri. “Stay in Rennes? Yes, it is possible, I do not close any door for my future.

“My advisors know that my priority is to finish the season well, but they have to work on it on their side, without necessarily talking to me about everything.

“I also know that if the World Cup goes well, for Tunisia and for me, it will open more doors for me. But I do not necessarily decide that, neither interested clubs nor the timing of the offers. I will make my choice according to what will happen.”