FORMER Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel is interested in replacing Jack Ross as Sunderland manager after the Scot paid the price for an unconvincing start to his second season in charge at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats’ owner Stewart Donald acted to axe Ross after 16 months in charge yesterday, on the same day it emerged a group of American investors’ proposed takeover of the Wearside outfit had collapsed.

Sunderland, under the guidance of Ross’ No 2 James Fowler, finished the day by beating Grimsby Town 3-2 in their opening group game in the EFL Trophy, with late goals from Marc McNulty and Will Grigg sealing the victory after Duncan Watmore had levelled things up on his return to action in the 68th minute.

Donald has started his search for his second managerial appointment since purchasing Sunderland from Ellis Short, with Stendel one of those to have put his name in the frame after his departure from Oakwell was announced earlier in the day.

The German led Barnsley to promotion from League One ahead of Sunderland last season but he has left having failed to win any of his last ten matches in charge in the Championship.

Sam Allardyce has already suggested he is not interested in a return, while ex-Sunderland boss Roy Keane wants another crack at management. Former Stoke manager Gary Rowett and the club’s post-war record goalscorer Kevin Phillips are also among those already mentioned with the vacant job.

Donald said: “Stendel, I’m sure he will be someone we could potentially look at. Jack has gone because promotion this season has the best chance with somebody else. I’m gutted and disappointed to say that.

“What happens now, nothing has been done because of a takeover or investment or someone else have left the job. We have to find the man and we have to get it right.

“I’m gutted. It was heartbreaking. Jack is a great guy and you wanted him to be successful and get it right. He steadied the ship and there’s an awful lot more to contend with.”

Ross paid the price for failing to get Sunderland in the top two after 11 games. Saturday’s woeful defeat at Lincoln City has left them four points behind second-placed Wycombe and eight behind leaders Ipswich Town. Donald has made it clear what he thinks.

He said: “I am looking for a manager to get us promoted. The remit is obvious in that sense. I know there’s a lot of frustration among the fanbase, we want to be ten points clear."

Sunderland remains under Donald ownership and he has insisted he has not dismissed Ross because of a breakdown in the US based MSD Partners group’s bid for the club. It was reported they have withdrawn their interest.

The group, led by Glenn Fuhrman and formed from the investment arm of the estate of Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, were said to be close to completing a deal last month but that has stalled.

Donald said: “This is not connected. The decision with Jack was one we spoke about and for all parties concerned it gives us the best chance for promotion. If there wasn’t any potential investment then I could talk about it. It’s on-going when I can’t talk about it.”

Ross’ assistant James Fowler was in charge for last night’s EFL Trophy victory over Grimsby, when he was quick to defend his close friend and long term colleague after the final whistle was blown.

Fowler said: “That one is for the manager, the boys from start to finish were excellent after a tough day. Credit to the players for how they responded.

“It’s not nice. I have been in that position myself. It’s been tough. Professional in what we did. We found out at 3 this afternoon, when he came into see us. He said make sure the lads put in a performance. I didn’t expect anything else.

“I am really gutted for him. I have worked closely with him for three years and seen how he has turned this club around. I have seen the things he has had to deal with, players in and out. He has tried to change the culture which isn’t something you can do overnight. There has been tears shed today. He has got everyone back together. I know how much he loved this job.

“He will not be short of offers. People who are in the know, can see what he has done, there will be job offers for them and big clubs. Look at his record, Wembley trips, the games he has lost … I think only Man City and Liverpool have lost fewer over the time he has been here. It’s a great thing for him to have on his CV.”