955 days since his last job in management; Roy Keane could be set for a return to the dugout.
The former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United midfielder has been linked with the vacant Sunderland managers position, according to The Daily Mail.
They're reporting that Sunderland are 'planning to interview' Keane for the role, with the board 'hoping to speak to the former boss in the coming days.'
Apparently, the Corkman has 'strong support from within the club' and 'is seen as the type of character they need to reignite their League One promotion push.'
Keane famously took up his first managerial role at the Stadium of Light in August of 2006. In his first season in charge, he guided the Black Cats to a Championship title.
Sunderland narrowly avoided the drop in his first season in the top flight, but a run of poor form in his second Premier League season led to Keane stepping down.
Speaking after his departure, Keane had cited differences with Sunderland majority shareholder Ellis Short. French owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus will be part of this interview process.
The vacancy arose on Sunday as Lee Johnson was handed his walking papers after a harsh 6-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers. It was his second season in charge at the club.
Sunderland AFC today announces the departure of Lee Johnson, who leaves the club with immediate effect.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) January 30, 2022
If Keane was appointed, it would spark plenty of Irish interest in the League One hierarchy. Sunderland are third behind Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United.
Wigan have several Republic of Ireland internationals on the books with James McClean, Will Keane, and new signing Jamie McGrath joining the ranks.
Rotherham completed the signing of Bohemians standout Georgie Kelly this transfer window, who'll join fellow countrymen Chiedozie Ogbene and Joshua Kayode.
Aiden McGeady is the lone Irish player at the Stadium of Light at the moment. They welcomed back Jermaine Defoe to the club from Rangers on Deadline Day.
Many will be familiar with Keane's work in punditry these days, as he's provided analysis for Sky Sports for plenty of Premier League action over the last few years.
Despite his work on TV, the Corkman hadn't ruled out a return to management at some point. His last job came as an assistant to Martin O'Neill at Nottingham Forest.
In a recent Sky Sports video series with Micah Richards, Keane seemed to have felt disparaged when Richards made light of him being in the running for the Manchester United job.
"Let's talk about United. I joked on Sky give it Roy until the end of the season," Richards said. "Why would that be a joke?" Keane responded.
"But you said it was something about me falling out with players. But that's what managers do, you're meant to fall out. I'll ask you a couple of questions here."
It might have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you could tell Keane wasn't against the idea of a return to management:
Keane: I'm going to turn it on you. Have you ever been in the dressing room with me? As a player?
Keane: Have you ever been in the dressing room with me when I've been a manager?
Keane: So why jump to these conclusions? A manager - you're meant to challenge people. You're meant to fall out with people. Managers do that. You might go, you can't fallout, whatever. Obviously not. But there's no doubt in my mind, I don't mean Man United if I went into a dressing room. I've managed in the Premier League, I worked with Martin O' Neill at international level.
Keane: I have to fight my corner, nobody else is!
Richards: I always fight your corner.
Keane: No ... imagine if Roy blah blah blah. why is that funny?
Richards: The reason why it is funny is because of De Gea and Maguire. That's it, not because of the rest of the team.
Keane: The first thing you'd walk into the club, I'd pull them two I'd go - I've been really critical of the two. Prove me wrong. And that's the end of the conversation, if they get upset with it, go, no problems players are upset all the time. It's not about the players liking the manager. The most important thing is you'd hope the players respect the manager.
Richards: Why are you not getting these opportunities to go to Man United then? That's the bigger question.
Keane: Obviously I'm not going to get the United job.
Richards: Why are you not? Why are you not? This is the whole conversation, why are you not going to get the United job?
Keane: They can't afford me!
Promotion will be the number one priority for whoever is brought in at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland have been in England's third-tier since 2018.
Symbolically the season Roy Keane left the club marked their return to the Premier League which lasted for ten seasons. They suffered from back-to-back relegations in 2017 and 2018.