Southampton will welcome Reading to St Mary’s on Saturday, in what could be called an early-season six-pointer in the relegation fight.
Nigel Adkins’ men have made a habit of taking something from their home clashes on their return to the Premier League, losing only three of their eight home games – and two of those defeats were against top-four sides Manchester United and Tottenham.
Reading are most certainly not a top-four side – in fact, they are in 19th just three points from bottom club QPR.
While Saints are not faring that much better than their Saturday opponents in 18th spot, three points above Reading, they will be confident of securing at least a point having done so in their past three matches at St Mary’s.
And aiding their cause ahead of Reading’s visit will be the potential return of defenders Danny Fox and Frazer Richardson, along with Richard Chaplow, from injury.
In good news for Brian McDermott’s men, winger Jimmy Kebe is set to come back into the matchday squad after recovering from a groin injury, while defender Chris Gunter, midfielder Jem Karacan and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy all remain sidelined, with the latter out for the season.
And with McCarthy sidelined long term, McDermott has been forced to elevate Australian keeper Adam Federici back to number one, despite enduring a below-par season.
Federici has failed to keep a clean sheet in his past four games – shipping eight goals in the process – while he was also in goal when Arsenal put seven past him in the League Cup earlier this season.
But McDermott has continued to back the under-fire shot-stopper to produce the goods, which he did last season to help Reading win promotion with 20 clean sheets in the Championship.
In recent head-to-head history between the two sides, Reading have the edge being unbeaten in their past three clashes, including a 3-1 win at St Mary’s in April, with Adam Le Fondre scoring a brace.