SAINTS will have to beat off competition from a host of other clubs to bring Jack Cork back to St Mary’s.

Saints are understood to have had a bid of around £750,000 accepted for the 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder, who enjoyed a loan spell at the club during the 2008/09 season.

But Nigel Adkins, right, is facing stiff competition for the England under-21 man’s signature.

Blackpool are also believed to have had an offer accepted, Burnley, where Cork spent last season on loan, also want to sign him permanently as, it is understood, do Nottingham Forest and Leeds.

But all five Championship clubs could be trumped by a Premier League offer from Swansea.

Swans boss Brendan Rodgers, pictured below, who guided his side to a play-off final win over Reading to book their place in next season’s top flight, is Cork’s former reserve team manager at Chelsea.

It was his influence that persuaded Cork to turn down the opportunity to stay at Saints after his loan expired in January 2009, instead moving to Watford citing Rodgers’ position as manager there at the time as his reason for moving.

However, Cork has also played under Adkins during a loan spell with Scunthorpe.

Cork is a versatile player who can play anywhere across the midfield or in the back four but is primarily a central midfielder.

He is the son of former Sheffield United striker Alan Cork and has been at Chelsea since he was nine but has yet to make a first team appearance for the Blues.

He does however have plenty of Football League experience from a host of loan spells.

Last season Cork played 46 times for Burnley, scoring three goals, and reiterated his desire for a permanent move to a club where he will get regular football.

“I just want to play football really,”

he said.

“If someone comes in from above and says you’re going to sit on the bench and maybe play here and there, it’s hard because it’s Premier League football but playing every game is what I want to be doing.

“At Burnley I’ve been doing that and I’ve really enjoyed it so if I can come back here and help to try to push again for promotion I’m happy to do that.”

Cork first went out on loan in the 2006/07 season at Bournemouth where he made nine starts before playing 35 times for Scunthorpe during 2007/08 under Adkins. He won the club’s Player of the Year award as the Iron were relegated form the Championship.

Cork, who could figure for the England under-21 side at St Mary’s on Sunday, spent the first half of 2008/09 at Saints – in the season they were ultimately relegated from the Championship – before the switch to Watford for the second half of the campaign.

The 2009/10 season saw 21 appearances during a stint at Coventry before landing up at Burnley who then extended his deal for the whole of last season after no clubs matched Chelsea’s £2m valuation.

Meanwhile, any hope Saints had of landing Peterborough striker Craig Mackail-Smith look to have got even fainter with the news that Posh have accepted a bid from a Premier League club for the prolific striker