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Friday, September 29, 2006

Southampton Preview: Southampton going for Fifth Consecutive Win

Southampton Official Site

Saints look set to be without two key players for tomorrow's home game against QPR, tickets now on general sale.

Inigo Idiakez has not trained all week with a hamstring problem and he is a major doubt to face the London side now managed by former Pompey boss John Gregory.
And Djamel Belmadi pulled out of training yesterday with a thigh injury and boss George Burley is anxiously waiting to see how it settles.

Burley said: "Inigo has been feeling his hamstring for a while and has not trained at all this week so he is a big doubt.
"Djamel felt his thigh and pulled out training so we have two experienced midfielders who are doubtful. But that is football and we have to deal with it."

Nathan Dyer would be the likely straight replacement for Belmadi while the injury to Idiakez could open the door for a league debut for Mario Licka.
The midfield playmaker has made just one brief Carling Cup appearance since picking up a foot injury in the pre-season friendly against Panathinaikos.

But he came strongly through this week's Reserve game at QPR, playing the full 90 minutes and setting up the first goal with a clinical through-ball for David McGoldrick.
However if he is judged to be slightly lacking in match-fitness then Burley could use Andrew Surman in a central midfield role.

Alternatively he could push Jermaine Wright back into the middle and switch Chris Makin to right-back with Gareth Bale returning on the left or using Alex Ostlund on the right with Makin or Bale on the left.
Burley said: "We have plenty of options and good cover in midfield with Nathan Dyer, Andrew Surman and Adam Lallana all coming through.

"These injuries might open the door for Mario Licka who will be in the squad. He is over the injury but needs games. He did well for the Reserves and finished the match.
"He is a naturally fit lad with loads of energy and he could figure. After this we have a two-week break to get players fit and that could help the likes of Claus Lundekvam, Michael Svensson and Darren Powell who are all getting close."

With the team playing well and on a winning roll, a big crowd is expected for the visit of QPR who moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over Hull in Gregory's first match in charge.
Fans are advised to arrive early to avoid queues at the ticket office or to book online.

Saints: (from) Davis, Wright, Baird, Pele, Makin, Belmadi, Viafara, Idiakez, Skacel, Rasiak, Wright-Phillips, Jones, Licka, Bale, Surman, Dyer, Ostlund, Sarmiento, Cranie, McGoldrick, Miller.


Its been a turbulent time for South Coast giants Southampton - but after a series of trials and tribulations, the future suddenly seems a lot brighter at St Mary's.

Despite seeing their South Coast rivals mixing it with the Premiership big-guns in the upper echelons of the top-flight, Southampton fans will take huge satisfaction from the fact that their own side finally seem to have turned the corner.

George Burley's men occupy third place in the table and seem sure-fire certainties to be there or thereabouts come the business end of the season.

Their upsurge in fortunes coincides with the arrival of eight new summer signings - the most high profile of which saw Bradley Wright-Phillips swap Manchester for Southampton, in a move believed to be worth £1 million.

Although Wright-Phillips - who if the rumours are to be believed was the subject of a bid from the R's this summer- has so far failed to set the world alight, the strength in depth Southampton boss Burley now has at his disposal is impressive.

Inigo Idiakez is arguably Premiership class; Rudi Skacel has played at the highest level in Europe with former club Hearts; and teenage full-back Gareth Bale is undoubtedly the star defender of the Championship season thus far.

Indeed it was Bale who got the ball rolling on the Saints' season, with two spectacular goals in as many matches ensuring Burley's men kick-started the campaign with four points from a possible six.

Back-to-back draws against West Brom and Barnsley continued the steady start, before the Saints eased into the second round of the Carling Cup, thrashing Yeovil 5-2.

Another point at home to Preston stretched their unbeaten league run to five matches, before Ipswich brought them crashing back down to earth, with goals from Simon Walton and Billy Clarke sealed maximum points for the Tractor Boys at Portman Road.

Undeterred, Southampton made light work of a potentially tough away fixture at Selhurst Park in their last away outing, with Kenwyne Jones and Gregorz Rasiak on target in a memorable 2-0 victory.

The former Tottenham man has been in scintillating form since then, with three goals in his last two outings firing the Saints into the top three.

Last league game: Burnley 2, Southampton 3.

Superhoopsbet.co.uk match odds:
Saints 4/9 QPR 6/1 draw 11/4

Saints star-man Grzegorz Rasiak

Key player: Grzegorz Rasiak
The former Derby striker has enjoyed a tremendous start to the new campaign, hitting back at the critics who dubbed him a 'flop' during his short spell with Tottenham Hotspur.
Clinical in the air and classy with the ball at his feet, Rasiak has already bagged eight goals in the Championship this season and looks set to take the Saints' goalscoring charts by storm.

Head to head:
Saints wins: 21
QPR wins: 21
Draws: 18

Last meeting:
QPR 1 (Langley), Southampton 0.
Football League Championship.
January 14th 2006.

Latest News:
Svensson's comeback put on hold
Southampton defender Michael Svensson has had his latest comeback put on hold because of a stomach bug.
The centre-back was due to play in a reserve match against QPR on Tuesday as he continues his recovery from two years of knee problems.
But the Swede is now expected to feature against Crystal Palace reserves next Tuesday.
Physio Andy Barr said: "The hamstring and knee are fine and he was ready to play but he's gone down with illness."
(Source: BBC Sport)

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