ROBBIE STOCKDALE has not been involved in this week’s discussions about Sunderland’s next permanent manager – but the caretaker boss insists he would not have it any other way.

Stockdale will take charge of his second game in interim charge tomorrow when Millwall visit the Stadium of Light - and it has emerged today the Black Cats have dropped their interest in Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom.

It is known that Heckingbottom, a former Sunderland youngster who has played for Darlington and Hartlepool, had reservations about taking on the role.

Stockdale, Sunderland's former first-team coach, has been in sole charge since Billy McKinlay left to join the coaching staff at West Ham, but refuses to discuss his future beyond this weekend’s game.

He is not currently being considered for a permanent position, with Martin Bain working on alternative options having decided against Heckingbottom.

Wales manager Chris Coleman is known to be another leading contender along with ex-Rangers boss Ally McCoist. Things could change if Sunderland were to get a positive result tomorrow.

For now, though, Stockdale's focus is on trying to overcome Millwall, and he is pleased he has not had to juggle his coaching duties with the off-field politics that have played out over the last few days.

“I’ve genuinely not got an awful lot to tell,” said Stockdale. “I spoke to Martin early in the week and he asked me to hold the fort and carry on being the lead person in charge and take the game on Saturday. That’s all I asked him, I just wanted some clarity for myself and the players.

“To be honest, it probably makes it a little bit easier that I’m not privy to a lot of what’s happening. If I knew all the ins and outs of what was going on behind the scenes, that might make it a little bit more confusing for me. I can just focus on the game with the players.”

Tomorrow’s game will see Sunderland attempt to avoid an unwanted record for the longest sequence of home games in all competitions without a victory.

The 3-3 draw with Bolton Wanderers that heralded Simon Grayson’s departure made it 19 games at the Stadium of Light without a Sunderland win, a sequence that has also been recorded by Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Dagenham & Redbridge. In the entire history of the Football League, though, no one has made it to 20 matches without a home win.

“It’s not something that any of us want, but I just see this as the next opportunity to put that right,” said Stockdale. “Our fans have been fantastic. They’ve not gone away from our stadium smiling enough – we plan to give them something to smile about.

“If you could put your finger on one thing, you’d fix it and make it right. We’ve been very close in games. We think we can win. Millwall will come and it will be a really tough game, but it’s the next opportunity to win at home.”

Sunderland will be without Billy Jones and Lamine Kone tomorrow, but Duncan Watmore should be available to return after missing the 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough and Tyias Browning has also returned to training.