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Fulham have denied speculation they are planning to replace manager Roy Hodgson with John Collins.

The Cottagers’ prospects of escaping relegation from the Premier League look bleak following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Sunderland, increasing doubts over Hodgson’s future.

The 60-year-old has failed to lead the club out of the bottom three and they remain six points adrift of safety with just five games to go.

But Fulham have denied their former midfielder Collins, who left Hibernian in December, is being lined up for a return to Craven Cottage.

A statement read: “The club would like to inform supporters that the articles that have appeared are untrue.

“Unfounded speculation concerning our football manager’s position is unhelpful, particularly at a time when the club is focused on preparing for Saturday’s important fixture at Reading.”

Collins, a free agent, was linked with the Fulham manager’s job when Lawrie Sanchez was sacked in December, but Hodgson was appointed instead.

Sanchez had left the club in a desperate position despite being given nearly £25million to spend during the summer.

The former Northern Ireland coach squandered the money on a selection of players from the Football League and paid the price with his job.

Hodgson used his Scandinavian contacts to strengthen the squad in January, but there has been no discernible improvement and Fulham appear doomed to the Championship.