Sunderland have urged the Football Association to make a swift decision on whether or not they want Sam Allardyce as the new England manager after allowing them to speak to him.
The Black Cats confirmed on Wednesday morning that they had given the 61-year-old, who signed a two-year contract at the stadium of Light in October last year, the green light to speak to the FA as they look for Roy Hodgson's successor.
However, it is understood that a selection committee comprised of FA's technical director Dan Ashworth, chief executive Martin Glenn and vice-chairman David Gill is to hold talks with a series of potential candidates, with Hull's Steve Bruce and Bournemouth's Eddie Howe thought to be among them before making a decision.
That process cannot be completed quickly enough for Allardyce's current employers, who have seen their preparations for the new Premier League season disrupted by the speculation surrounding their manager with the supposedly secret initial interview procedure having become all too public.
A Sunderland statement said: "The Football Association contacted Sunderland AFC to seek permission to speak with our manager as part of what was supposed to be a confidential discussion process with potential candidates for the position of England manager. At Sam Allardyce's request, we agreed to this.
"Sam is very much key to our plans. After what was an extremely challenging season, we are keen to see a period of stability, both on and off the field, and we want him to remain as manager of our football club.
"The ongoing speculation over Sam's position is extremely damaging to Sunderland AFC, particularly at this crucial time of the season and we urge the FA to respect the disruption that this process is causing and bring about a swift resolution to the matter.''
Sunderland's concern is understandable given the job Allardyce has done during his short time on Wearside, dragging the club out of Premier League relegation trouble for the fourth successive season to provide hope for a brighter future.
However, he has long coveted the England job, to which he was beaten by Steve McClaren in 2006, and with his efforts to strengthen the Black Cats' squad this summer so far proving frustrating, he has been installed as the bookmakers' odds-on favourite to replace Hodgson.
There appears to be no hard-and-fast timescale for an appointment and it is understood that the possibility of installing an interim coach for September's opening World Cup qualifier against Slovakia has not been ruled out.
He has already received the backing of several high-profile supporters, led by former Manchester United boss and close friend Sir Alex Ferguson, and their ranks were swelled on Tuesday by new Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.
Asked about the vacancy, Rodgers told talkSPORT: "The England job really is a wonderful job because of the players, and there are so many good people behind the scenes, the likes of Dan Ashworth, who is a good guy who wants to do it the right way in terms of putting all the things in place in order for the team to succeed.
"But I think it's also a very, very difficult job, isn't it, the expectancy of it?
"I see they are linked with Big Sam, and you wouldn't go too far wrong with Big Sam because in my meetings with him over the years, I have spoken with him and he's a very intelligent man, very detailed in is approach. He knows what he wants out of the game.
"He gets labelled a wee bit with this style of football, how he wants to play, but I haven't seen that so much in recent years.
"West Ham played good football at times, so I think he would be an ideal candidate for it and a good guy as well to rally the players.
"As I said, it's a tough job, expectancy is huge on it, but it would be a very rewarding job, I am sure, because of the level of players that they have.''
Should Allardyce get the nod, the Black Cats would have to find a ninth permanent manager in less than eight years with Sean Dyche and David Moyes understood to figure prominently among their targets.