ulham face a fight to keep boss Felix Magath after refusing Southampton permission to speak to him.

The 60-year-old German will have to walk out on the west London Championship club if he wants to hold talks with the managerless Saints about a swift return to the Premier League.

Southampton want Magath to replace Mauricio Pochettino – who took over at Tottenham last month – by the end of next week.

They have already spoken to Feyenoord boss Ronald Koeman, too.

But while Koeman, rejected by Swansea, is desperate to work in the Premier League, the Daily Mirror suggests that Southampton are particularly keen to speak to Magath – despite his relegation with the Cottagers this season. x-Bayern Munich coach Magath has so far given his word to Fulham – and the club’s fans – that he will continue to lead them despite their drop into the Championship.

However, Southampton believe Magath had little to work with at Craven Cottage – where he was the third manager of the season after Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen were axed in December and February respectively – and could deliver better results with a squad of greater quality.

Fulham, though, want him to continue the process of restructuring their playing staff for a tilt at an automatic return to the top flight.