Southampton stick with Woodward as manager in waiting

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The Independent Online

Southampton's board last night agreed to increase the involvement of Sir Clive Woodward with the club's first-team ­ but will not make him manager for now.

Dave Bassett and Dennis Wise will remain in charge until after Sunday's League match against Luton Town. Southampton will then step up their efforts to find a full-time replacement.

Several names were discussed at the board meeting, including Watford's Adrian Boothroyd and Brentford's Martin Allen, although the option is there to keep Bassett and Wise until the end of the season.

There is a possibility that Woodward will then take over, but the former England rugby coach yesterday reiterated his belief that it was too soon for him to take the job. "At this stage I'm not sure who will take over, but it will not be me," he said.

The Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe, who is fully committed to Woodward, made clear to his fellow directors that he wants the next manager to be his appointment. He gained the board's full backing.

Lowe is angry that previous moves for Kevin Blackwell and Glenn Hoddle were overruled in favour of the ill-fated regimes of Paul Sturrock and Harry Redknapp and that he took the blame. Southampton are likely to turn to a young, tracksuited manager as they continue restructuring.

Whoever is appointed will have to work closely with Woodward. Southampton will have to reach a quick decision over Bassett, however, as his current contract expires at the end of the month. Redknapp, who created the vacancy by his dramatic departure from Southampton last Friday, yesterday took his first training session back at Portsmouth and recalled the striker Vincent Pericard from his loan spell at Sheffield United.

He is also understood to have enquired about the former Chelsea captain Marcel Desailly, who is a free agent after a spell in Qatar. A move for Desailly, now 37, was vetoed by the Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric during Redknapp's first spell in charge at Fratton Park.

Redknapp saidthat he needed to "get the best" out of a " match-winner" like Laurent Robert. It had appeared that the 30-year-old had no future at the club, after a series of outbursts, but Redknapp is a known admirer, having, when manager at West Ham, tried to sign the French winger. "He's one I need to get on-side and get the best out of him," said Redknapp, who now plans a clear-out and is likely to be joined next week by Southampton coach Kevin Bond.

The Football Association is waiting for a detailed response from the Betfair betting exchange before deciding whether to launch an official inquiry into the amount of money, now estimated at more than £16m, traded on whether Redknapp would return to Portsmouth.

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