NIGEL Adkins has been relieved of his duties as first-team manager of Premier League side Southampton after two-and-a-half years in charge, the club have announced this morning.

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Adkins led the Hampshire club to two successive promotions, taking them from League One to the Premier League last season.

Southampton are currently in 15th position in the table – three points above the relegation zone – and are unbeaten in their last five league games.

Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon inspired Southampton to a comeback 2-2 draw away to Chelsea on Wednesday night, but the club have this morning taken the decision to part company with Adkins, 47, and appoint Argentine Mauricio Pochettino as his successor.

Southampton’s official Twitter account posted: “Southampton Football Club has appointed Mauricio Pochettino as first team manager having relieved Nigel Adkins of his duties.”

Pochettino, 40, is due to take charge of Southampton for their home Premier League clash against Everton on Monday night.

The Argentine left Spanish side Espanyol in November and will take charge of training on Saturday for the first time.

Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese said: “This decision has been made with the long-term ambitions of Southampton Football Club in mind.

“Whilst we acknowledge the contribution Nigel has made during the past two years, for the club to progress and achieve our long-term targets a change was needed.

“Mauricio is a well-respected coach of substantial quality who has gained a reputation as an astute tactician and excellent man manager.

“I have every confidence that he will inspire our talented squad of players to perform at the highest possible level.”

Pochettino played for Espanyol and Paris Saint-Germain as a defender during his career, and won 20 caps for Argentina, fouling Michael Owen at the 2002 World Cup to give England a penalty which was converted by David Beckham.

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