Former Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Watford hitman Kevin Phillips has expressed his surprise to hear part of the reasoning for Eddie Howe rejecting the Celtic job was related to his interest in the Southampton job.

Before Celtic announced that Athens-born Australian tactician Ange Postecoglou had been appointed to the dugout at Parkhead, the club had been locked in talks with ex-Bournemouth boss Howe for months over the possibility of him coming in at Celtic.

However, talks eventually broke down ahead of Postecoglou’s appointment with Celtic chiefs moving swiftly on from Howe ahead of confirming their new manager.

Football Insider have claimed that Howe is taking his time over his next move, with the ex-Bournemouth boss having his sights set on eventually replacing Ralph Hasenhuttl at Southampton.

Location is said to be a major factor ahead of any potential move, with the south coast location of Southampton looking to be particularly attractive to Howe.

When asked by Football Insider for his thoughts on the news that the Southampton job was a factor in him rejecting Celtic, Phillips said:

“I find it surprising that he is hanging on to the hope of getting his dream job from down the road from where he lives.

“Ralph Hasenhuttl is doing a good job under difficult circumstances there. They’ve lost two or three or their best players again. The Southampton job might not come up for a long time and then he could find himself out of work for one, two or three years.

“I was surprised he didn’t take the Celtic job. He could always resign if a better opportunity came along.

“In Howe’s defence, he needed a break from football. He managed Bournemouth for a long time and it is always good to refresh.”

Read Southampton Verdict

Howe looks as though he is putting a significant amount of stock into Hasenhuttl struggling on the south coast.

There of course remains the question as to whether the Southampton board would even be keen to recruit Howe in the event of a vacancy, or whether fans would be receptive to Howe joining the club as manager.

Moreover, the bigger question remains over Hasenhuttl himself. There has been no indication that he is set to be sacked or to leave any time soon, and Howe and his desire to bounce on the job is certainly curious given that the possibility of the vacancy coming up looks slim for now.

Will Howe return to the Premier League this season?