Adkins rallies Saints for final promotion push

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The Independent Football

Ahead of a crucial week for league leaders Southampton in which they visit Crystal Palace today and take on Reading on Friday, manager Nigel Adkins has rallied his team who were held to a 2-2 draw with Portsmouth on Saturday after conceding deep into injury time to David Norris's volley.

"We're top of the league with five games to go and if we win them we are up. We have to believe we can do that," Adkins said after his team failed to win for a second successive game.

With Reading not playing until tomorrow night, West Ham could go within a point of an automatic promotion place with a win against Birmingham City, and Hammers captain Kevin Nolan says he would like nothing more against his former manager at Newcastle United, Chris Hughton. "I'm delighted to see what Chris is doing at Birmingham but hopefully we'll stick one over him."

Blackpool are expected to be without midfielder Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who has a head injury, and top-scorer Kevin Phillips, who has hip and ankle problems, for the home game with Barnsley. Ahead of the visit of his former club Watford, Cardiff City's manager Malky Mackay is confident after his side's 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. "We are going into the final games with momentum," he said.

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