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Roy Keane linked with return to Sunderland after Alex Neil departure

Keane has often spoken about leaving his punditry career behind once again and returning to football management

Roy Keane broadcasts ahead of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford last Monday© Manchester United via Getty Imag

PA Media

Roy Keane has emerged as a candidate to return to manage Sunderland after the departure of Alex Neil to Championship rivals Stoke City.

Neil quit the Black Cats on Sunday with Keane – who guided Sunderland into the Premier League back in 2007 – among the favourites to replace him.

The former Ipswich Town boss, aged 51, has often spoken about leaving his punditry career behind once again and returning to football management.

Neil, meanwhile, has signed a three-year deal with the Potters, having watched their win over Blackburn from the stands on Saturday.

The former Preston boss had taken over at the Stadium of Light in February and led the Black Cats back into the second tier through the League One play-offs.

But he departs under a cloud, with the Wearside club claiming they had offered him an improved deal despite the fact he had only signed a fresh contract weeks ago.

"Alex was our number one choice to become our new manager and I'm delighted we have secured his services so quickly," said Stoke joint-chairman John Coates.

"His managerial pedigree is excellent with three promotions already on his CV and we are looking forward to working closely with him to help him realise the ambitions that he and the club share."

A 13-match unbeaten spell under Neil guided Sunderland into the play-offs, where they went on to beat Wycombe 2-0 to end a four-year stay in League One.

"First and foremost, we want to thank Alex for his contribution to Sunderland AFC," said the club's sporting director, Kristjaan Speakman.

"The impact he made is clear and he played an integral role in our promotion last season. Despite signing revised terms earlier this month and receiving an offer to further improve his contract on Friday, Alex felt this was an opportunity that he wanted to pursue.

"We are extremely disappointed by his departure, but we ultimately respect his decision and we wish him well.

"The process to appoint a new head coach is under way and we will provide a further update to our supporters shortly."

Keane will have competition for the Sunderland role with former Burnley boss Sean Dyche and Keane’s former Manchester United team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also linked with the job.

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