PAUL CLEMENT is the red-hot favourite to take over at Reading FC after the club dismissed former boss Jaap Stam.

The 46-year-old, who has previously held posts as assistant manager at European giants Real Madrid, is a free agent after he was sacked by Swansea City in December 2017.

Reports suggest Clement is currently flying back to the UK from a family holiday in United States with a view to signing a deal before the weekend.

Royals announced yesterday (Wednesday) Stam had been dismissed following a shocking run of one win in 18 league games.

Reading are hovering just three points above the Championship drop-zone and have an extremely tough run-in against some of the division’s top sides.

Disgruntled supporters have been calling for the 45-year-old to be given his marching orders for several weeks, despite Stam steering Reading to the Championship play-off final last season.

The club’s hierarchy had insisted he should be given time to turn Reading’s fortunes around, but changed their mind after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Norwich.

A club statement said: “Majority shareholders, Mr Yongge Dai and Ms Xiu Li Dai, had wanted to give Jaap every opportunity to turn around what has been a difficult and challenging Championship campaign.

“Jaap has not wavered in the time, effort and sheer determination he has put in to try to steer the team away from the position we find ourselves in. However, after careful consideration, the decision has been made that a change is now necessary.”

Reading Chronicle:

Reading's Chinese owners including Dai Yongge, left, decided enough was enough on Wednesday and let Jaap Stam go.

Reading FC refused to answer other question regarding Stam’s sacking or his replacement.

Now, the odds on former Derby County and Swans boss Clement taking over the reins have been slashed to 1/20.

Clement has experience in the Championship after a short spell with the Rams, where he won 14 of his 33 games in charge.

Other possibilities include ex-Rangers boss Mark Warburton (8/1), former Hull City manager Marco Silva (10/1) and Royals legend Phil Parkinson (10/1).

However, supporters have backed former Reading captain Graeme Murty to land the job. The current Rangers boss has been priced at 12/1 to head back to Madejski Stadium, having made 339 Royals appearances, scoring twice.

Royals have eight league games remaining this season, starting with a home fixture against Queens Park Rangers on Good Friday.

But the club yesterday refused to say who will take over as interim boss while the search for a new manager continues.

The Chronicle understands assistant manager Andries Ulderink will take training alongside Michael Gilkes and Said Bakkati in the meantime.

The Reading FC statement continued: “We will now focus on identifying and recruiting the right person to take us forward. We will make no additional comment at this time.”

Stam oversaw 98 Reading games, winning 35, and steering the club to a third-placed finish in his debut season as a manager.

Reading FC added: “We would like to thank Jaap for his hard work and commitment, in particular noting what he achieved in a memorable first season in management. We wish him the very best of luck.”