Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership;

MATCH OF THE DAY; Southampton v Blackburn Rovers
Click to follow
The Independent Online
FOR SOUTHAMPTON and Blackburn, six-pointers do not get much bigger than this. A win for the Saints - coupled with Charlton failing to beat Leeds - would lift them out of the bottom three for the first time this season. A win for Blackburn would see Brian Kidd's side given a similarly timely injection of hope. A draw would be of little use to either team, although third from bottom Rovers have a game in hand on the two sides below them and a point would be as beneficial for morale as much as for safety.

The Southampton manager, Dave Jones, has seen his team win five and draw one of their last six games at The Dell, but will be acutely aware that as the season draws to a close, the nerves will start to show and the pressures will intensify. In this atmosphere, he will be hoping that Latvia's Marians Pahars - recently signed from Skonto Riga for pounds 800,000 and due for a home debut - can produce the kind of performances that have seen him dubbed "the Latvian Michael Owen." Jones said yesterday: "We have tried not to push him too quickly but he has settled in well. He speaks some English but football is a pretty universal language. Assuming there are no problems he will figure tomorrow."

At times like these in the past, Matt Le Tissier (left) has come to the rescue more than once and should continue in the starting line-up. Moroccan midfielder Hassan Kachloul should start after missing last week's 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa through international duty, while defender John Beresford could be recalled to the squad following a long-term knee problem after proving his fitness for the reserves. Goalkeeper Neil Moss (groin) is expected to recover and continue in place of the injured Paul Jones, although defender Ken Monkou misses the game due to a one-match ban.

The former Saint Kevin Davies could be given a surprise place in the Blackburn starting line-up alongside Ashley Ward, due to injuries to Matt Jansen and Chris Sutton. Davies, with just one Premiership goal since his pounds 7.25m move from The Dell last summer, has been low on confidence after ongoing problems with tonsilitis and criticism from the fans. Kevin Gallacher (right) also comes into contention after his injury problems, and his inclusion would probably offer Rovers their best chance of goals. In midfield Billy McKinlay has suffered a recurrence of his groin injury and is doubtful, although Lee Carsley may be available as he has improved in his battle against an ankle problem.

SOUTHAMPTON (from): Moss, Hiley, Dodd, Lundekvam, Colleter, Marsden, Le Tissier, D Hughes, Oakley, Kachloul, M Hughes, Beattie, Ostenstad, Pahars, Bridge, Beresford, Monk, Benali, Ripley, Stensgaard.

BLACKBURN ROVERS (from): Filan, McAteer, Henchoz, Peacock, Broomes, Davidson, Gillespie, Johnson, McKinlay, Dunn, Carsley, Wilcox, Ward, Davies, Gallacher, Marcolin, Taylor, Flowers.

Suspensions: Southampton: Monkou.

Referee: G Barber.

Comments