Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet have reservations over replacing Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland - potentially opening the door to Steve McClaren appointment

The former Chelsea duo are reluctant to take the high-risk role with the Black Cats currently bottom of the Premier League

The search for Paolo Di Canio’s replacement continues with Sunderland not expected to make an announcement before the weekend, and it has emerged that two of the leading candidates for the role are having serious reservations over taking the reins at the Stadium of Light.

Despite quickly becoming the bookmakers’ favourite, it is believed that Roberto Di Matteo is reluctant to take the job due to the risk involved, with the Black Cats currently propping up the Premier League table with just a solitary point and a disjointed squad after 14 new faces arrived in the summer.

Di Matteo is still being compensated by his former club Chelsea after being dismissed in the winter of 2012, and he is understood to be wary over taking the role on Wearside unless it offers an opportunity for success.

The Italian played for the Blues alongside another name linked with the role in Gus Poyet, although he is said to be unsure over the role due to director of football Roberto De Fanti’s significant influence over player recruitment. Poyet is also still locked in a legal dispute with his former club Brighton and Hove Albion, after he was sacked in the summer following the Seagulls play-off defeat to rivals Crystal Palace in which he launched a strong attack on the club’s board.

The Uruguayan was also involved in a well-publicised incident to do with the state of the away changing rooms when the Eagles arrived for the second-leg of the play-off semi-final, in which he sent out a club-wide email to try and identify the culprit. Poyet was then famously relieved of his duties when he was live on TV as part of the BBC’s coverage of the Confederations Cup.

Di Canio was sacked on Sunday night following the 3-0 defeat to West Brom a day earlier, while he was also involved in a training ground bust-up with certain members of the squad. After telling them if they did not feel happy with the Italian in charge that they should complain to the board, a selection of players did exactly that and Di Canio was on his way out of the Stadium of Light after just 13 games in charge.

Former boss Steve Bruce criticised Di Canio’s outdated approached, claiming: "You cannot manage in the Premier League these days through a fear factor. You have got to be able to manage individuals.

"Man management has become more relevant in my experience than coaching. Once you get yourself in the Premier League, they are all good players and you have got to find a way of getting the best out of them. It's never been my style to criticise anyone in public but I'm disappointed for Paolo. He's a character. A manager's lost his job. It's a lonely place. I feel sorry for any manager in that position. I've gone through it and it's not nice."

Should both Di Matteo and Poyet turn down the opportunity, Steve McClaren appears to be the next in-line to takeover, with the former England boss having been without a managerial position since leaving FC Twente in 2012, although he has been working on the Queens Park Rangers coaching staff under Harry Redknapp since July on a short-term deal.

Caretaker manager Kevin Ball will take charge of tonight’s Capital One Cup match against Peterborough, and is likely to also be in control when they face Liverpool on the weekend. The new man in charge will have a tough start to their reign, with matches against Manchester United, Swansea and the north-east derby against Newcastle to follow the visit of the Reds on Sunday.

Di Canio was sacked after just six months in charge Di Canio was sacked after just six months in charge  

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