Southampton have identified Preston North End’s Head of Recruitment Joe Savage to become their new Sporting Director according to The Independent.

Scottish side Hearts are also taking an interest after Savage’s impressive work at Deepdale where despite having one of the smallest budgets in the division, they are currently lying in second place in the Sky Bet Championship and just two points behind leaders West Bromwich Albion.

Savage joined Preston in 2017, following boss Alex Neil to Deepdale after the pair worked together at Norwich and Hamilton previously.

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Southampton have recently had a change in their backroom staff with Ross Wilson having joined Rangers and the Saints are now looking for a replacement.

Despite his current good work with Preston, Savage may find it difficult to dismiss the chance of working in the Barclays Premier League.

Preston are becoming increasingly concerned with reports surrounding their manager Alex Neil who was touted by Stoke City for which they made a complaint though they later withdrew it.

Due to their impressive league form, Neil and Savage are both attracting interest from other club which is to be expected with their reputations becoming further enhanced due to the jobs they are currently doing at Deepdale.

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Managerless Hearts, who sacked Craig Levein last week, are looking to create a sole post for a Sporting Director and are also interested in the services of Savage.

To lose either Neil or Savage would be a huge blow to Preston and their push for promotion with the duo being a vital part of the infrastructure of the club and having bought so much success to the club in their tenures so far.

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