SAINTS legend Terry Paine believes Nigel Adkins deserves a full season to prove himself in the Premier League.

Paine, who made more appearances for the club than anyone, reckons Adkins has earned the right to be in charge till the end of the campaign.

With more than a fifth of the season gone, third-from-bottom Saints have lost more games and conceded more goals than any of their rivals.

But Paine says: “Nigel’s got to be allowed to go with what he’s got until the end of the season. His record in doing what he’s done at the club is second to none and the first time he’s come under any real pressure he gets this.

“The result at West Ham was always going to mean a certain amount of speculation regarding his future, that’s the norm in this situation.

“Any manager would come under pressure after results like the club have had this season, as I’m sure Mark Hughes is finding.

“But I don’t think changing the manager at this stage would do the club any good.”

Paine believes the relegated trio will come from the bottom seven – Sunderland, Norwich Wigan, Aston Villa, Saints, Reading and QPR.

“I don’t see anyone else dropping down,” he said. “Sunderland are awful, although Martin O’Neill might have enough to keep them up, and I don’t fancy the chances of the others.

“But you have to ask what sacking Adkins would achieve. A new manager wouldn’t be able to bring his own players in until the January transfer window.

“He would take a while to get his feet under the table and by January it might be too late anyway. If the club is still struggling come January, they have to decide whether to bring in reinforcements to strengthen or whether to stick with what they’ve got and be in a better position to come straight back up next year.

“I think that’s the only option. Adkins should be given the benefit of the doubt because what he’s done has been miraculous. He’s done a fabulous job.

“There will be those who want him to go and Nigel will be the first to understand that. When you go to a new club you go knowing you’re 99.9 per cent likely to get the sack at some stage. But I would be very disappointed if he left before the end of the season.”