Saints Go Marching North-by TMP
It is understood that Steve Cotterill will not be making many changes to the side as the Saints go marching onto the Turf this Tuesday night. This could be a good idea in view of the confidence the Clarets displayed against the Canaries on Friday winning 2-0 in a highly polished performance and lifting the gloom of six successive defeats and no goal in 512 minutes of play.
John McGreal however who didn’t feature in the Norwich game remains a doubt with a calf injury.
A question mark also remains over the fitness of midfielder Micah Hyde (knee) and goalkeeper Danny Coyne and defender Wayne Thomas are of course out for the season.
It will also be interesting to see whether new boy, Alan Mahon starts the match having been brought on as a substitute in the last game. Steve Cotterill had stated on Sky TV that for the Norwich game, Alan was not an automatic choice as he didn’t want to disappoint somebody he had already selected to play before the late arrival of Alan Mahon just before the loan deadline last Thursday. Team spirit being the key! I would fancy this time though that Alan will start the match against the Saints.
I would hope too that we continue to play 4-4-2 with Andy Gray no doubt partnered by Ricketts. I have to say though, now that hopefully we are safe from relegation worries, I would prefer to see a partnership between Gray and Kyle Lafferty develop with one eye on the 2006-7 Season. This would be the time to bring on the young guns and give them more experience. Chris McCann now seems almost an automatic choice and was awesome in the Norwich match, so much so I thought with many others that he was Man of the Match although that accolade according to Sky Sports of course went to Phil Bardsley who was equally impressive.
George Burley will hand a late fitness test to Grezegorz Rasiak before naming his squad to take on Burnley tomorrow.
Darren Powell, their centre-half has hamstring and back problems and will miss the game, while Matt Oakley and David Prutton (both ankle) are also not fully fit
Djamel Belmadi also picked up an Achilles problem in Wednesday's Saints reserve clash with Arsenal but may have recovered in time, while Marian Pahars is unlikely to be sufficiently match fit to play any part.
Danny Higginbotham has been playing with a splint protecting his fractured wrist and no doubt will continue to do so.
The last time I saw these two teams play was at St Mary’s this season when the Clarets put in a very creditable performance coming away with a well-earned point in a 1-1 draw. You would be hard put to remember the last time these two teams played each other before that match! It was incredibly on the 4th Feb 1978 in a 3-3 draw at the Turf
The victory and performance against Norwich has lifted the spirit of the club both players and fans alike and the lads should now be fired up enough to put in another good performance against an underachieving Saints side and ensure the Southampton outfit will be marching off the pitch back home with hopefully nothing to cheer about and no points!