Southampton manager Nigel Adkins chooses backgammon over West Ham

Saints manager knows Hammers must win to stop his side going up – but won't watch tonight

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The Independent Football

Adam Lallana will watch but Nigel Adkins has decided not to as Southampton's season goes on the line at Leicester City tonight.

If West Ham United fail to win at the King Power Stadium tonight, Southampton will return to the Premier League after a seven-year absence. They could have confirmed their promotion on Saturday evening at Middlesbrough, but they did not, going ahead but eventually losing 2-1.

Should West Ham win tonight – and they are very good away from home – the second automatic promotion place will be decided on Saturday, the final day of the regular Championship season, when Southampton host already relegated Coventry City and West Ham welcome Hull City.

"It will be impossible not to watch it, or at least keep an eye on what's happening," winger Lallana said of tonight's game. "The prize is so great so we're bound to be wanting to know what's going on. Leicester are a good team and hopefully they'll want to go out on a high in front of their own supporters. But West Ham are a good team as well so you never know what's going to happen."

The West Ham defender James Tomkins believes that they can take the contest to the final day, but would not worry about the play-offs either. "We are still confident," he said. "We're disappointed [to be in this position] but we're still positive. Of course we can go into the play-offs and win them. It's not the end of the world. We will concentrate on the rest of the season first, though, because it's still mathematically possible that we could go up automatically. We just have to concentrate on that." Meanwhile, West Ham keeper Ruud Boffin has parted company with the club after having his contract cancelled by mutual consent.

Lallana will not be joined in front of the action from Leicester, though, by his manager Adkins, who said that he would spend tonight rather differently. "I won't watch it," he said. "I expect West Ham to win the game. But all our focus will be on what we can do and that's prepare properly for the game at home against Coventry.

"I might have a game of backgammon. The best thing to do is get yourself occupied doing something else. I'm sure there will be plenty of people texting and phoning about the result. The phone probably won't be in my vicinity. You can't control it. I've done it previously where you are sat there kicking every ball and then all of a sudden they score in the last minute so you just don't put yourself in that position."

This was not expectation-management, though, as Adkins is still confident of Southampton's promotion. "We've been able to lift the players really well this season, they are all good professionals," he said. "We've got one game to go, at home. We fancy our chances at home. One game to go, we win that game, we get promoted to the Premier League."

Southampton's Hampshire rivals Portsmouth will certainly be leaving the Championship, but in the opposite direction. Pompey lost 2-1 at home to Derby County on Saturday, and so will be joining Coventry and Doncaster Rovers in League One next season.

Portsmouth might well have been safe were it not for a 10-point deduction which followed their going into administration. Liam Lawrence, who left the club for Cardiff City on loan because of the financial crisis at Fratton Park, said that Portsmouth's former owners, who left them in such trouble, were a "disgrace".

"For the powers above to deduct points for the idiots who have ruined the club, run away scot-free and left it in a mess is unfortunate," Lawrence said. "I feel so sorry for the supporters for what they have been put through in the last three years. It's disgraceful."

Lawrence is happier with the situation at Cardiff, who, after drawing 1-1 with Leeds United on Saturday, should secure a play-off place with a draw at Crystal Palace next Saturday. "Cardiff is totally different," Lawrence revealed. "The club is run a lot different. It is financially secure and has a great fanbase like Portsmouth but we're at the other end of the spectrum."

Ups and downs

Premier League

Wolves are relegated.


Reading are champions; Portsmouth, Coventry and Doncaster are relegated. Blackpool are in play-offs.

League One

Charlton are champions. MK Dons, Huddersfield and Sheff Wed/United are in play-offs. Rochdale relegated.

League Two

Swindon Town are promoted.

Conference Premier

Fleetwood are promoted. Darlington, Kettering and Bath are relegated.