Sheffield Wednesday yet to receive formal approach for Steve Bruce from Newcastle United

Sheffield Wednesday have yet to receive a formal approach from Newcastle United to speak to manager Steve Bruce about their vacant managerial position, The Star understands.

Bruce, appointed as Owls boss in January, has emerged as a surprise contender to succeed Rafael Benitez at his hometown club.

The 58-year-old, who was born near Newcastle and is a lifelong supporter of the club, has found himself installed as the bookmakers’ favourite – some even suspended betting – to replace Benitez over the past 48 hours.

But I understand Wednesday have received no official approach from the Premier League club regarding Bruce and would not welcome one either.

Owls boss Steve Bruce

The Magpies are looking to make a quick appointment before they head off to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday. Several potential candidates, including Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard, have ruled themselves out of contention.

Bruce, who has been repeatedly linked with the Newcastle job since Sir Bobby Robson left 15 years ago, returned to England on Wednesday afternoon following the Owls' 10-day pre-season training camp in Portugal.

When asked about the speculation following the club's 2-0 practice match victory over Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday evening, the former Sunderland chief played down the talk.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, he said: “God only knows what happened on Tuesday afternoon. There seemed to be an upsurge [in the betting] from somewhere.

“John Terry was favourite yesterday. It was Mikel Arteta the day before, so who knows?

“As far as I am concerned, I am here, I am going home tomorrow and looking forward to walking the dog.”

With Bruce on a one-year rolling contract, Newcastle would have to pay a sizeable compensation package to release him.

Bruce has taken charge of just 18 matches since succeeding Jos Luhukay at the helm.