The list of managers linked with the vacancy at Sunderland continues to grow with David O’Leary being joined by John Gregory, George Graham, Mick McCarthy, Gary Megson and George Burley as potential successors to Peter Reid.

Mick McCarthy is the new favourite to succeed Reid, who was sacked on Monday; the Republic of Ireland boss having been under pressure in hispresent position since the bust-up with Roy Keane on the eve of the World Cup finals. McCarthy is understood to be increasingly fed up with the criticism that has lingered in the wake of that row andwould welcome an advance from a Premier League club.

McCarthy admitted to being ‘flatttered’ to be linked with the post and added: ‘I have nothing to say about the speculation. It is the price of success that you see your name linked with a job like this.’

Derby boss John Gregory is another who would relish a return to the Premier League. The former Aston Villa manager was given the green light to apply for the job by his present chairman Bryan Richardson. Asked about the prospect of Gregory quitting Derby, Richardson stated: ‘I doubt he would find it hard to make the move to Sunderland.’

‘I don”t think under those circumstances, we would want to stand in his way,’ Richardsoon added.

Meanwhile, former Arsenal, Spurs and Leeds boss, George Graham, who continues to be linked with most Premier League vacancies, flew too Dubai yesterday, quelling speculation that he was being lined-up to succeed Reid.

Martin O’Neill is the believed to be the fans’ choice, although given that he is curently negotiating an extension of his contract wiith Celtic, it seems unlikely he would be interested in the Stadium of Light vacancy, especially a he reportedly rejected the chance of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

Although several current and former coaches of Premier League clubs, including Gary Megson, Alan Curbishley, Bryan Robson, Chris Turner, Kenny Dalglish have been linked with the post, the current favourite remains McCarthy.