SUNDERLAND expect to have a new permanent manager in position by the end of the week, with Paul Cook having emerged as a leading rival to Gus Poyet in the battle to be appointed as Phil Parkinson’s permanent successor.

First-team coach Andrew Taylor will be in charge when the Black Cats take on Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light tomorrow night, but the former Middlesbrough defender is not under consideration for a full-time managerial position. Instead, the Sunderland hierarchy hope to have a new full-time boss in place by the time Wigan Athletic visit Wearside on Saturday.

That new boss could turn out to be Cook, whose most recent managerial post was ironically at Wigan. The 53-year-old led the Latics to the League One title during his three-year spell at the DW Stadium, but stepped down when Wigan’s financial problems resulted in them entering administration in July.

He was on the three-man shortlist that was assembled when Jack Ross was dismissed as Sunderland manager last autumn, and while he was passed over for Parkinson a little over a year ago, he still has his supporters among the Black Cats’ powerbrokers.

The dynamics of Sunderland’s latest managerial search are interesting as current owner Stewart Donald and former board member Charlie Methven are understood to be having an input into the selection process, even though Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus hope to complete their takeover within a matter of days.

The EFL have begun the formal process of ratifying the change in ownership via their owners and directors’ test, with Sartort and Louis-Dreyfus set to purchase an 80 per cent shareholding in the club.

Sartori, a Uruguayan businessman who has been involved with Sunderland for the last two years, is a long-standing associate of Poyet, who has publicly expressed his desire to return to the Stadium of Light some five-and-a-half years after he was sacked as Black Cats boss with the club still in the Premier League.

Poyet is keen to complete what he regards as unfinished business on Wearside, and boasts experience of succeeding at League One level, having led Brighton to the third-tier title in 2011.

At the same time as seeking to appoint a new manager, Sartori and Louis-Dreyfus have also begun the process of searching for a director of football, who would assume control of all of Sunderland’s strategic long-term decisions. Former Black Cats midfielder Stefan Schwarz is understood to be one of the figures currently being considered for the post.

Taylor will attempt to guide Sunderland back into the play-off places tomorrow, and while Aiden McGeady will not be considered for a first-team return, Josh Scowen should be available despite suffering a knock last Friday.

“As it stands, it looks like we’ll be able to pick from the same group of players that were available against Fleetwood,” said Taylor.