Fans can help push Saints all the way to the top flight, says Adkins

 

Nigel Adkins, the Southampton manager, has told the club's fans they will have a huge part to play against Coventry today when a victory will guarantee the Saints Premier League football next season.

The race to claim the second automatic promotion spot behind Reading goes to the final day of the Championship regular season, with Southampton and West Ham the two teams in contention.

Saints hold the upper hand as they face already-relegated Coventry at St Mary's boasting a two-point lead over third-placed West Ham, who are at home to Hull. The south coast side also have a superior goal difference of plus-three over the Hammers.

If Southampton do prevail, it would be the second successive season they have sealed promotion on the final day after claiming runners-up spot in League One last term, and Adkins is hoping his side's fans can help them achieve a similar outcome this time.

"They're good happy memories aren't they?" Adkins said of last year's triumph. "It was great for the supporters and for the players, and on this occasion we know we've got to win and the supporters have got an important role to play – their positivity will drive the players on, their positivity will be there to lift the players and drive them on to get the three points.

"We have a magnificent support base. There will be 32,000 here on Saturday and they're going to lift the players, they're going to get behind everybody. We have 90 minutes to win the game of football and I've got total belief in the players to go and do that," he said.

Should Southampton slip up, then West Ham – who kept their hopes alive with a 2-1 victory at Leicester on Monday – will be determined to take advantage. However, manager Sam Allardyce knows it is Southampton who hold the aces. He said: "I don't think we are too nervous because we only have a slim chance; most of the pressure lies with Southampton on the day because they have more to lose than we do. We have to rely on Coventry doing a big favour for us at St Mary's, which is going to be difficult."

In the race for the play-off spots, Blackpool are already assured of their berth ahead of the trip to Millwall, while Birmingham are all but guaranteed to finish in the top six. They are at home to champions Reading, Cardiff, in sixth, need at least a point from their visit to Crystal Palace, who they beat in the Carling Cup semi-finals, while seventh-placed Middlesbrough travel to Watford hoping Malky Mackay's side slip up.

Football League: Ups and downs

Championship

A win for Southampton at home to Coventry would take them up and consign West Ham to the play-offs. The Hammers need to win by four and hope Saints fail to win. Birmingham, Cardiff and Middlesbrough battle to join Blackpool in the play-offs.

League One

Sheffield United will be promoted if they win and Sheffield Wednesday lose; Stevenage and Notts County contest the final play-off position. Defeats for Exeter and Chesterfield would confirm their relegation, while Wycombe will join them if Walsall better their result.

League Two

Shrewsbury go up with a win, while Crawley join them if they win and Torquay lose. At the bottom, Macc-lesfield go down if they lose and Barnet win, which would also leave Hereford needing victory to stay up.

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