Sunderland will be without their manager Alex Neil when they host Norwich City this weekend.
The Black Cats were dealt the massive blow less than 24 hours before hosting the Canaries.
Neil is in talks with Stoke City about becoming their next permenant manager, following the departure of Michael O’Neil on Thursday (25 August).
The match is televised on Sky Sports this lunchtime.
Why is Alex Neil not on the touchline for Sunderland?
The former Preston North End and Norwich manager will not be in the dug out for the Black Cats.
He joined Sunderland in February and helped the fallen giants end their four-year exile in League One, guiding the team through the play-offs.
But he is now in talks to replace Michael O’Neill at Stoke.
Alex Neil was appointed on a rolling 12-month contract at Sunderland.
Who will take charge of the Black Cats on Saturday?
In a post on Twitter, Sunderland wrote: “Existing first-team backroom staff will oversee today’s fixture versus Norwich City in the absence of Alex Neil.
“Assistant Head Coach Martin Canning will be in attendance alongside First-Team Coaches Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor and Head of Goalkeeping Alessandro Barcherini.”
What did Sunderland say?
In a club statement on Friday, the Black Cats said: “Sunderland AFC can confirm that Alex Neil has entered into discussions with Stoke City regarding their current managerial vacancy.
“Following a formal approach by SCFC, the club is contractually obliged to permit the head coach to start a dialogue with the Potters.
“The club is committed to retaining Alex’s services as head coach and will be making no further comment at this moment in time.”
The announcement came less than an hour before Neil was due to speak to the media ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Norwich.
Is he taking the Stoke job?
An official announcement has yet to be made, however it is heavily reported that Alex Neil is set to be unveiled as the new Stoke manager.
It is anticipated an announcement could be made on Saturday (27 August) morning.
When do Sunderland play Norwich?
The Black Cats will host the Canaries at the Stadium of Light on Saturday lunchtime.
It will be featured on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.
The match will kick off at 12.30pm.
Why was Michael O’Neill sacked?
Stoke have sacked manager Michael O’Neill and placed assistant Dean Holden in interim charge.
The Potters have won only one and lost three of their opening five games in the Championship this season, and currently lie 21st in the table.
Stoke joint chairman John Coates said in a statement on the club’s website: “Michael joined us in November 2019 when the club was in a difficult situation and the job he did in stabilising our position in the Championship should not be underestimated.
“Michael has worked tirelessly and with extreme professionalism, in particular in reshaping our squad and developing young players, but we feel the time is right to move in a different direction. I would like to thank him for his efforts and wish him every success for the future.
“Assistant manager Dean Holden will take interim charge of the first-team. The club has begun the process of appointing a new manager and will be making no further comment at this time.”
Former Northern Ireland boss O’Neill succeeded Nathan Jones at Stoke with them bottom of the second tier. They went on to finish 15th in 2019-20 season, then 14th in each of the next two campaigns.
The Staffordshire outfit – who this term have also been eliminated from the Carabao Cup by League One Morecambe – are next in action when they take on Blackburn at Ewood Park on Saturday.