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Ralph Hasenhuttl the front-runner to replace Hughes as Saints boss

Ralph Hasenhuttl the front-runner to replace Hughes as Saints boss
© Reuters
Hasenhuttl's left his role as RB Leipzig boss in the summer.

Kelvin Davis expects Southampton to install a permanent manager to replace Mark Hughes before Saturday's Premier League trip to Cardiff, with former RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl the front-runner for the job.

First-team coach Davis will take interim charge for Saints' league trip to Tottenham on Wednesday after manager Hughes was sacked on Monday.

Press Association Sport understands Hasenhuttl, who left Leipzig in the summer, is in pole position to replace the Welshman, with Sky Sports News reporting the 51-year-old has already agreed in principle to take the job.

Davis admitted he expects the Southampton board to move quickly on securing a new permanent manager.

Asked if being given control only up to Wednesday's Tottenham trip suggests a permanent appointment will happen before the weekend, Davis replied: "To me it does indicate that.

"But whether that happens or not will be up to the guys upstairs. I'm taking the team up until Wednesday and we'll see after that."

Former Wales international Hughes was sacked on Monday after just eight months at the St Mary's helm, with Southampton boasting just one win in 14 Premier League matches this term and deep in the early-campaign relegation mire.

Saints will have seen four permanent managers in less than 18 months once Hughes' long-term replacement is in post.

Southampton v Manchester United – Premier League – St Mary's Stadium
Southampton's 2-2 draw with Manchester United was Hughes' final at the helm.

Southampton's axing of Hughes and coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki comes just a month after the departure of vice-chairman of football Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter.

A statement from the club on Monday read: "We would like to express our thanks to Mark and his staff for all of their efforts during their time at St Mary's.

"The search for a new manager to take the club forward is already under way."

Saints are now understood to be looking at the highly-rated Hasenhuttl to re-energise the club.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been linked with the job
Ralph Hasenhuttl has been linked with the Southampton job (John Walton/PA)

After spells in charge of Unterhaching, Aalen and Ingolstadt, the Austrian has been without a job since ending his impressive spell at Leipzig.

Former Saints goalkeeper Davis revealed his pride at taking temporary charge of his home club, but insisted he will not look beyond Wednesday's clash at Wembley against Spurs.

"The opportunity I've got now is to take the lads for a couple of days' training and to prepare for the Tottenham game," said Davis.

"After that is after that. I don't think it would be wise to even consider anything after that.

"My aspirations are to continue to support the club as best I can and if one day an opportunity arises to become a manager I would love that. But for now that's a million miles away from my mind."

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Mark Hughes in charge of Southampton on August 18, 2018
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Southampton looking to replace Mark Hughes with Ralph Hasenhuttl

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