FULHAM are set to test Saints' resolve to keep Chris Baird by slapping in an increased £3m bid for the wantaway star.

The 25-year-old Northern Ireland defender stunned fans who had voted him player of the season yesterday when it was confirmed he had handed in a transfer request.

Baird has already been the subject of one unsuccessful bid from Fulham, managed by the defender's former international boss Lawrie Sanchez, with George Burley describing what was believed to be a £2.5m offer as "derisory."

But with the lure of Premiership football, Baird, who has two years left on his current deal, has made it clear he wishes to leave Saints by asking for a move.

As a result, he is obviously happy to miss out on money he would ordinarily get from a transfer.

There is a train of thought that Saints' directors should reject the request - in the same way that Colchester this week turned down star striker Jamie Cureton's transfer request.

And if Burley decides he wants to keep Baird at all costs, then the board will come under pressure to reject the request.

If Burley decides there is no point in keeping a player who so obviously wants a move, and there are other targets to spend the money on, Baird could be sold - the second prize defensive asset to leave within weeks following Gareth Bale's departure to Spurs.

Saints remain in negotiations with Polish striker Marek Saganowski as they try to make his loan move from Troyes a £1m permanent one.

It is unlikely that Burley would see too much money from the Bale transfer - those funds are needed to plug the gaps caused by the loss of the £6.5m Premiership parachute payment.

But there are suggestions that selling Baird will bring in money to make sure the Saganowski deal goes through, as well as further strengthening the squad.

But any move would obviously weaken a defence already reeling from the loss of Bale.

Following on from Michael Svensson's release, it would leave just Alexander Ostlund, Claus Lundkevam, Pele, Darren Powell and Chris Makin as the only recognised defenders definitely signed up for next season.

Of those, Powell only played eight league matches last season due to injury.

Saints are still waiting to hear from defender Martin Cranie, who is out of contract and yet to sign the new deal offered to him.

There is also a chance Rudi Skacel could switch from midfield to left-back to fill the hole left by Bale.