Saints are said to be fighting off mounting interest in their player-of-the-season Chris Baird.

According to reports in London, new Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez has launched a £2.5m bid for the highly-rated centre-back.

Sanchez knows Baird well from his time as Northern Ireland boss and, although the bid has been rejected, he is said to be preparing an improved offer to tempt Saints.

Fulham are not the only Premiership club linked with Baird with Blackburn also rumoured to be keeping tabs on his situation.

The reality is that Saints know they will be able to fend off any bids for their star players if the proposed takeover comes off.

They have already had to sell Gareth Bale to protect themselves financially in the short-term should billionaire Paul Allen opt not to invest in the club.

But Bale could be the only top name to leave St Mary's this summer if Allen does come in, in which case the club will be secure financially.

However, if he doesn't, Saints could be forced to sell Baird and any other valuable assets, such as Grzegorz Rasiak, to keep the club finances on as even a keel as possible.

In that event, Saints would not be in a position to hold on to players for whom they were offered good money - and Baird is certain to be one of those.

Saints declined to comment on the speculation.