SAINTS are wasting no time in their attempts to hire a new manager and are confident of naming Mauricio Pellegrino's replacement very soon.

The Daily Echo understands vastly experienced Premier League boss, Mark Hughes, is the frontrunner for the role at this stage.

The former QPR, Fulham, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers chief is available after getting sacked by Stoke in January and would be able to come in at a moment’s notice.

That would suit Saints who want a manager on the training ground as soon as possible to begin working on turning around their troubled campaign.

Saints are currently a point above the drop zone after an appalling run of just one win in 17 league games, which led to Pellegrino’s departure late on Monday.

Hughes, 54, has never been relegated as a top-flight manager and has a wealth of experience, having taken charge of nearly 450 Premier League games.

The Welshman left the Potters in the relegation zone in January after a poor run of five defeats in seven league games, and losing to League Two Coventry City in the FA Cup.

Hughes, who played 60 times for Saints in a spell at The Dell from 1998-2000, had been in charge at Stoke for four and a half years.

It is understood that Marco Silva, the former Hull and Watford boss, is not in contention for the St Mary’s role at this point.