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Football: Coventry arrive at critical point

The past week has not seen the best days in the life of Ron Atkinson - and Southampton plan to make it even tougher for the beleaguered Coventry City manager at The Dell tonight.

Atkinson's birthday celebrations were cut short when his home was robbed while he was away commentating for television and his wife, Maggie, was held captive by the burglars.

Even the heartaches of Premiership football become insignificant compared to ordeals like that, but the Saints aim to drag Coventry - who have been in the top division for 29 years - into the bottom three and climb out of the relegation zone themselves.

Atkinson is certainly glad to have skipper Kevin Richardson back from suspension and will drop Peter Ndlovu to accommodate the midfielder's return.

"I've said all along that we are good enough to stay up, but it is getting critical now because many people would say we have the toughest run-in of all the teams down at the bottom," Atkinson said. "It might even get to the stage where we have to beat the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool to beat the drop."