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By ESPN Staff

Collins favourite to succeed Sanchez at Fulham

John Collins has been installed as the immediate favourite to take charge at Fulham following the sacking of manager Lawrie Sanchez this morning.

Former Northern Ireland boss Sanchez has paid the price for the club's poor start in the Barclays Premier League this season.

The Cottagers have won just twice in the league and are 18th, with 13 points from 17 games.

The development is sure to fuel speculation linking the Cottagers with former player Collins, who resigned as Hibernian boss yesterday.

Sanchez, 48, arrived at Craven Cottage just last April - initially as caretaker boss following the departure of Chris Coleman.

He successfully steered the club to safety and was appointed full-time, after relinquishing his duties with Northern Ireland, in May.

But after impressing early in his reign, Sanchez has failed to maintain the momentum this season - and Fulham have run out of patience.

A club statement read: 'Following a run of disappointing results, the club is languishing in the relegation zone of the Premier League table - and losing its Premier League status is a proposition that simply can not be contemplated at this stage in the club's ongoing development.

'The club is confident that it will find the right replacement to increase its chances of remaining in the Premier League, which is of vital importance.

'The club would like to thank Lawrie for helping the club through a difficult period at the end of last season, and thank him for his service over the last eight months.'

Ray Lewington and Billy McKinlay have been placed in caretaker charge for this weekend's home clash with relegation rivals Wigan, but the search for a long-term replacement will now begin.

Collins was immediately linked with Fulham and the Scotland national team when he announced his shock resignation after just over a year in charge at Easter Road yesterday.

The former Scotland and Everton midfielder, however, was quick to play down the link with the London club.

Speaking yesterday, Collins told Sky Sports News: 'There has been no contact from Fulham. That would be disrespectful to the manager, who is doing a tough job just now.'

Sanchez now faces an uncertain future in management. The former Wimbledon midfielder and FA Cup-winner restored his reputation with Northern Ireland, whom he guided to a famous win over England, after a disappointing end to his spell as Wycombe boss in 2003.

As well as Collins, former Tottenham boss Martin Jol and recently sacked England manager Steve McClaren are among the early front-runners to succeed him.