LONDON (SE) - Two teams stuck in the Premier League's relegation zone meet at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday afternoon when Southampton host Reading.
Both teams gained promotion from the Championship last season, but a scrap to avoid the drop appears to be on the horizon after a tough start to the season. Southampton's mini-resurgence of four games without defeat was ended at Liverpool last weekend, but manager Nigel Adkins is pleased that his team have now got some points on the board.
"We are in the mix, we are competitive now and that's the important thing," said Adkins. "We've got goals in the team, we pass the ball, we're very creative, we have goals all over the team. We've been outstanding at St Mary's and played some really good football, dominating games. That's where we've got to make sure we strive to pick up the three points in every game.
"The next game is a derby game against Reading. It will be a full house, a great atmosphere and a game that the players will be looking forward to."
Visitors Reading are second from bottom, with just nine points and one victory in 14 to their name. Despite scoring three goals in the first half against Manchester United last time out, the Royals again came away with nothing, but manager Brian McDermott would not be drawn into talk of this weekend's meeting being a relegation decider.
"On Saturday we are playing for three points and that is it," said McDermott. "People will try and blow it out of proportion, but it's nonsense to call it a 'must-win' game or anything like that. It's just a game of football we will try and win. That's how I've approached games for a long, long time.
"There is no more pressure on the Southampton game than there was on playing Manchester United last weekend, or on trying to win at Barnsley last season come to that. We're trying to do the best we can for the fans and I believe we're improving all the time. We've played 14 games now so we know what the Premier League is all about. The hardest thing in the Premier League is scoring goals and we're managing to do that. But we have to make sure we keep clean sheets."
The Saints have doubts over Danny Fox (knee), Richard Chaplow (knock) and Frazer Richardson (thigh), while Reading have concerns over the availability of Jimmy Kebe (groin). Chris Gunter (hamstring) and Jem Karacan (knee) remain out for the Royals.
This will be the first meeting between these clubs in the top-flight. Reading took four points off the Saints in the Championship last season and haven't lost at St Mary's in their last three visits.
Southampton conceded 28 goals in their opening ten games of the season, but have allowed just four in their last five after tightening up at the back, and have lost just one of those five games. Reading have picked up just two points away from home this season.