Nigel Adkins welcomes his old side to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday for his first home match in charge of Reading just weeks after his unceremonious sacking at the hands of the weekend's opponents. Adkins will know that only a win will do if Reading are to avoid the drop and stay in the Premier League next season as a defeat, along with other results not going their way, could leave them 10 points adrift at the foot of the table with only six games to go.
Although Adkins will know his former players inside out, he will be well aware of the magnitude of the task for the Berkshire club. Whilst Reading are on a run of six successive defeats and have not tasted victory since the start of February, Southampton will be flying high after their 2-1 victory over Chelsea last weekend that has moved them up to 12th place.
The in-form Rickie Lambert will pose Adkins the biggest headache in the run-up to the match. The 31 year old striker’s goal last weekend sparked calls for his inclusion in the England squad after becoming the highest scoring Englishman in the league this season. He will be surely relishing the chance to line up against a Reading defence that has yet to keep a clean sheet in the league in 2013.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 12:45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Southampton 1 (Puncheon) Reading 0, Premier League, December 2012
Southampton 1 (Lambert) Reading 3 (Roberts, Le Fondre 2), Championship, April 2012
Reading 1 (Leigertwood) Southampton 1 (De Ridder), Championship, October 2011
Substitutes have scored 10 times for Reading this season; more than any other Premier League side.
Reading are on a run of six successive defeats, one away from the worst run this season of seven, which they themselves set.
Reading’s three clean sheets this season have all come at the Madejski Stadium.
Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has made the most interceptions in the Premier League this season with 118.
Reading to win: 3.10
Southampton to win: 2.20
CLASSIC MATCH :
Reading’s 3-1 victory over Southampton in April 2012 that all but secured their promotion to the Premiership and put them three points above the Saints in the race for the Championship title with three games to play. Southampton’s 2-1 loss to Middleborough two weeks later confirmed Reading as champions.
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2 at 12:45pm, highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm