Holloway tells unlucky Southern to bide his time for first-team start

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The Independent Football

Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, admits it has been unfortunate the way things have worked out for midfielder Keith Southern so far this season.

Southern played a key role last term as the Tangerines earned promotion to the Premier League, but has yet to feature in the first XI this campaign.

While Blackpool have made an impressive start to life in the top flight – including last weekend's shock 2-1 victory at Liverpool – the midfielder has been restricted to two substitute appearances, having initially been sidelined with a knee injury. Holloway has expressed his sympathy for Southern but is reluctant to change the team until he has to.

"Keith Southern has to be the unluckiest man in the world at the moment because he was probably one of our best players last year and he can't even get in yet," Holloway said. "I have promised them all they will get a good chance, but with the new players and the formation we've got, we are looking a threat and we caused Liverpool all sorts of problems. But as the season goes on, we'll be tested by injuries and more."

Southern does not feel hard done by though, and after playing for the final half an hour at Anfield, has set his sights on forcing his way back into the reckoning. "There's nothing unlucky about my situation," Southern said. "I'm just desperate to get back in and hopefully I did my cause no harm on Sunday.

"I want to play – there's no shame in admitting it. The manager is a fantastic guy. He has brought this club on leaps and bounds and improved me tenfold."

Alex McLeish has told Birmingham fans frustrated by the stuttering start to the current campaign to trust him. City have won only one of their opening seven matches in the Premier League and were booed off at the end of last weekend's 2-0 defeat by Everton.

McLeish was upset with that reaction to Blues' first home defeat in 13 months and wants supporters to show faith in him and his staff. He said: "I understand people are frustrated and so are we. But the fans have got to trust me. I have been in this game a long time and we are aware of what we need to improve upon.

"We are trying to find the right solutions, trying to find the right balance. There have been some changes since last season and we have dropped some big points. But there are plenty still to play for and we have a team that is well capable.

"We have forwards still striving to find their feet and, as yet, I've not found the most potent combination, despite trying them all."