Ex-Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo could be set for a sensationally quick return to football management. The 42-year-old Italian was fired by the Stamford Bridge club last week, after a 3-0 Champions League group stage defeat to Serie A champions Juventus. However, the Daily Mail reports the former Chelsea midfielder could be handed the reins at St Mary's Stadium and replace Nigel Adkins as Southampton boss.

Roberto Di Matteo

The Saints are struggling on their return to the Premier League, with Adkins and his men rooted near the foot of the table (19th with eight points and only two wins) after 12 games. The club, which finished second in the Championship last season, were winless in six games going into last week's relegation dogfight against QPR. However, the win at Loftus Road could buy Adkins a measure of time before the axe falls.

But the 47-year-old former Scunthorpe United boss has to move fast, particularly since Saints' executive chairman, Nicola Cortese, is unwilling to risk top-flight status by trusting him. And the pay-off is, admittedly, huge. The Premier League has re-negotiated television deals for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons, with BT and BSkyB, to the tune of £3bn. This means that should Southampton stay in the top flight next year, they will receive an enormous amount of money.

Adkins does have support from the dressing room, with 23-year-old midfielder Jack Cork speaking out on behalf of his manager.

"It would be a bit harsh if we did not give our manager a chance at this level. The last couple of results have gone quite well and, hopefully, he will get a little bit more time to show what he can do," the youngster said, adding, "I don't know what it is like at other clubs but the manager is always there to talk to if you have a problem and he's always got a positive attitude."

Southampton host Newcastle United in their next game, with three points certain to put pressure on fellow relegation strugglers Reading and Aston Villa; the Royals and Villa play each other at Villa Park on Tuesday.