Mark Hughes says he would “love the opportunity” to manage Saints on a permanent basis.

Hughes is in pole position to land the role after coming in for the final eight league games of the season and steering the club to Premier League safety.

After yesterday’s season ending defeat to champions Manchester City, Saints are set for a short period of reflection to decide which way to go for the future.

Hughes was only given a short-term contract but has made a sizeable impact.

He said: “I have come in here, been able to make an impact, it’s a good club, I’m a professional football manager and I would love the opportunity.

“We will have to wait and see.

“I would imagine the club have had discussions not this week or last week but probably ever since I walked through the door in terms of what they would do.

“There were two scenarios if we went down or we stayed up.

“I did say that my view they will make a quick decision one way or the other.

“If it involves me I will be delighted but I was given a short-term contract and that’s what I’ve done and that’s the top and bottom of it really.”

Hughes admitted his decision to join Saints late in the season following the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino was a risk, but it seems like one he was glad he took.

“From my point of view I came in in difficult circumstances and it could have gone wrong personally but that was never the motivation to get back on the horse, so to speak,” he reflected.

“It was the fact that I had played at this club and knew that it was a good opportunity.

“I looked at the squad and thought they maybe needed a little bit of direction and had lost confidence.

“It was still a risk from my point of view in terms of reputational damage if it went wrong but I walked through the door and straightaway I knew there was a group I could work with and make better and get them out of this situation.

“People may say I have done what I needed to do and well done to Mark Hughes but the credit lies with the players, the support staff and everybody at the club and the support we’ve had is why we’ve been able to do it.

“The crowd as well, and I keep on mentioning this, and it’s only because I’ve not experienced any disconnect with the supporters before I got here and that happens when the season isn’t going as well as you want, but since I’ve been here they’ve been magnificent.

“They were great again and we needed them and that’s why they’ve been able to get us over the line.”