Premier League preview: Reading v Southampton
By Football News
New Reading manager Nigel Adkins has the chance to exact revenge when Southampton make the trip to Madejski Stadium on Saturday.
In what has been labelled the harshest sacking in Premier League history, Adkins was sensationally relieved of his duties after the club had come from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Chelsea in January.
Southampton were three points clear of the relegation zone at the time and their decision ended Adkins' two-and-a-half-year tenure as manager, which saw back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League.
Adkins is back in the hot seat and faces a difficult task to keep Reading afloat in England's top flight.
His first game in charge resulted in a crushing 4-1 defeat to Arsenal, a loss that leaves Reading rooted to the foot of the table with 23 points from 31 games, seven points adrift of safety.
Reading are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, shipping 15 goals in the process, and Adkins will be up against it trying to stop the rot against his former employers, who are in good form.
Southampton, under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, sit 12th in the standings and four points clear of the drop zone.
Fans had questioned the appointment of the former Espanyol coach but successive wins against Liverpool and Chelsea, and an impressive victory over defending champions Manchester City, has Southampton supporters singing his praises.
Central to that great run of form is Rickie Lambert, who has netted goals against Liverpool and Chelsea in recent weeks.
A prolific goalscorer in the lower leagues, doubts were raised about Lambert's ability to perform in the top division, but the Englishman has defied his critics.
The bustling striker has now scored 14 goals, making him the highest-scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season, ahead of Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney.
History is against Reading in this fixture, having lost 1-0 at St Mary's in December last year.
On the injury front, the hosts are expected to welcome back Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici, while Southampton are sweating on the fitness of captain Adam Lallana (groin) , Artur Boruc (illness) and Danny Fox (hip).