Bruce back in race for hotseat

Wigan Athletic's former Manchester United defender and Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce is back among the front runners to become the next boss of crisis club Newcastle United.

The Geordie boss is again being strongly linked with the job after Terry Venables turned down the chance to take charge at St James' Park.

Earlier this week, bookmakers quoted odds of 8/1 on Bruce, who supported Newcastle as a boy, succeeding Kevin Keegan.

Bruce, who turned down the chance to manage Newcastle in the past, was even ahead of cult hero Alan Shearer among the bookies' favourites.

But Bruce, who is on a three-year contract at Wigan, recently said he had one of the best jobs in football working alongside Latics chairman Dave Whelan.

He kept Latics up last season after leaving Birmingham but the lure of returning to his native Tyneside may prove too strong - Bruce is a product of the famous Wallsend Boys' Club.

Wigan would demand huge compensation if he moved on and would fight to keep him.

In 2001, Bruce left Wigan to take charge of Crystal Palace.

The next 48 hours promise to be interesting for Bruce - regarded as one of the best young managers in the country - previously making no secret of his desire to eventually manage at the highest possible level.