Former Swindon Town manager Paulo di Canio is the bookmakers favourite to become the new Reading manager after Brian McDermott was sacked after over three years in charge at the Madejski Stadium.

Di Canio, who resigned as boss of the League One side in February, is the leading contender to replace McDermott along with ex-Southampton boss Nigel Adkins.

The Royals are currently 19th in the Premier League with nine games remaining, with Saturday's home defeat to fellow-strugglers Aston Villa their fourth successive defeat leaving them four points from safety.

After reaching The Championship play-off final in 2011, McDermott earned promotion to the top flight as champions with Reading last season, claiming the manager of the month award in January after wins over West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and a draw with Chelsea.

Brian McDermott
McDermott is sacked after over three years in charge at Reading.

But McDermott becomes the fifth Premier League manager to lose his job in the 2012/13 season and will be replaced by a new man charged with keeping Reading in the Premier League, a campaign which continues this weekend away at leaders Manchester United.

"Reading Football Club has announced today the departure of Manager Brian McDermott. Owner Anton Zingarevich wishes to place on record his thanks to Brian who had achieved great success with the club since taking over as Manager in December 2009," a Reading statement read.

"Brian gained promotion to the Barclays Premier League last year for only the second time in the club's history thanks to a remarkable run at the end of last season. However, in our current situation, owner Anton Zingarevich felt that a change was necessary.

"The search for a successor will start immediately and it is hoped that a new Manager will be in place as soon as possible to lead the fight against potential relegation."

The 51 year old McDermott, the former Slough Town and Woking boss, replaced Brendan Rodgers as boss in December 2009, signing a one-year rolling contract the following month after knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

After defeat in the play-off final to a Swansea City side managed by Rodgers, McDermott took Reading to automatic promotion the following season, claiming the LMA Championship Manager of the Year award the same season.

Reading took 11 games to register their first league win against Everton and after a run of 10 points from a possible 12, leapt out of the bottom three for the first time since November last month.

However, amid being knocked out of the FA Cup by United, Reading have suffered league defeats to Stoke City and Everton, entwined with home losses to fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic, and then Villa on Saturday.

Owner Zingarevich took ownership of the club from current chairman Sir John Madejski at the start of the season.