EXCLUSIVE By Editor Wayne Veysey| Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this

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Fulham have made an approach for Gary Rowett but have a back-up candidate in case talks break down, Football Insider sources understand.

The Londoners have turned their sights on the Birmingham boss after talks to land Reading’s Steve Clarke and former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson broke down.

A senior Fulham source has told Football Insider that the club have made contact with Birmingham about holding formal talks with Rowett.

Discussions are set to take place about a deal that would take Rowett to Craven Cottage although the Championship club have taken the precaution of lining up Rangers manager Mark Warburton as a back-up candidate.

Fulham are hopeful they can agreed a deal with Rowett and Birmingham but do not expect to have a new manager in place for Saturday’s home match against Preston North End.

The Londoners have been impressed by Rowett’s achievements at Birmingham since taking over a year ago.

He took over when the Midlands club were second bottom of the Championship, kept them up and has steered them into sixth place in the league this season.

Fulham believe former Burton boss Rowett, 41, also fits the model of the management structure they are keen to maintain.

U-turn: Steve Clarke has decided to remain at Reading

U-turn: Steve Clarke has decided to remain at Reading

Owner Shahid Khan wants to appoint a head coach-type figure who can work with transfer chief Mike Rigg rather than a traditional manager in the mould of Harry Redknapp or former Charlton and West Ham boss Alan Curbishley, who is advising caretaker Peter Grant.

As revealed by Football Insider, a deal with Pearson is dead in the water as his long-time assistants Steve Walsh and Craig Shakespeare are unwilling to quit Leicester for a pay cut.

Reading manager Steve Clarke had agreed the terms of a contract with the Londoners but the deal collapsed after he tried to renegotiate lucrative top-up bonuses.

Rowett insisted at his media briefing on Thursday morning that he remained focused on Birmingham and preparing to beat Brighton this weekend.

But he will join Fulham if a deal can be agreed and will be the replacement for Kit Symons, who was sacked earlier this month.