Tim Sherwood’s job at Aston Villa is under deep scrutiny and could hinge on results before the November international break.
Villa have lost six of seven Premier League games to sit four points from safety in 18th and the manager is ready to fight for his future by going on the front foot in Saturday’s game at Chelsea.
Chief executive Tom Fox is understood to be highly concerned at Villa’s form but club sources suggest Sherwood should get longer to convince of his capabilities than the next two fixtures at Stamford Bridge and home to Swansea.
Brendan Rodgers would be a favoured candidate if owner Randy Lerner and Fox lose faith in Sherwood, while Sportsmail understands David Moyes may be tempted to cut short his spell at Real Sociedad for any vacancy at Villa Park.
Just five months since Sherwood kept Villa up and reached the FA Cup final in vibrant fashion, serious fears are growing among fans that a sixth successive season battling relegation may finally end in a drop to the Championship.