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Hull City 1 v 2 Southampton
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 21st October 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Hull City The Preview
Friday, 20th Oct 2023 10:22

The casual onlooker at Saints social media over the last week or so since the draw with Rotherham would not think that this was a Southampton side that is travelling to Hull City looking to make it 3 wins out of 4 and in doing so propel themselves into the play off spots.

I have spent the last fortnight mainly trying to justify the last couple of months of Russell Martin and Southampton FC, not because i am just sticking up for the manager and club out of blind loyalty to either or that I think that they have got everything right, that is far from the case.

I have done so because I think that in football promotion campaigns are over 46 games and are full of ups and downs and that dropping two points against Rotherham is not a good result, but it is not the end of the world either.

As is stands Saints have now started to put the 4 game losing streak and indeed the defensive issues behind them and are now looking more like a team again, so I am going to concentrate on the things that can be changed and that is winning at Hull and not what we did wrong at Sunderland or at home to Leicester or indeed against Rotherham a fortnight ago.

The big question going into this game is whether Taylor Harwood-Bellis will be fit, he limped back from the England U21 squad without playing a game after a hamstring issue in training, hamstrings are very difficult injuries to assess, they happen out of nowhere and can take a matter of days or for that matter weeks or months to recover, so was this one fairly innocuous and in the 10 or so days since he returned to Staplewood is now fine again or is it going to be a longer issue.

If he is fit THB plays, if he doesn't then his replacement is a fairly easy choice, Mason Holgate should replace him.

Like Russell Martin, Mason Holgate should not be judged early, not on his 3 appearances so far for Southampton, but on his pedigree as a player and his ability to do the job.

He has 126 appearances for Everton in the premier League to his name, the bulk of them in a 3 season spell where he looked the part in the centre of their defence, he also has a half season at West Brom in the Championship.

In truth although his performance at Sunderland was poor, he was no worse than those around him, his first 45 minutes against Middlesbrough were fine, until he got caught on the ball and I don't entirely blame him for that and I think it was wrong to take him off at half time for that one.

Since then he has played just once and that came in the final minute against Stoke, plus 10 minutes of injury time where he played a part in ensuring we held on to our 1-0 lead and took all 3 points.

Promotion seasons are about using the squad and most of our rivals won't be able to call upon a player with that experience from the bench when injury hits.

So i think that will potentially be a change for the trip to Humberside.

Other than that I would hope that Russell Martin will not deviate too much from the starting line up that took on Leeds & Stoke, we have a core side that is good enough to not only make the play offs but grind down the opposition in getting into the top two come the end of the season, the crucial thing being the depth of the squad.

But depth can be a problem for a manager as he has to keep everyone happy and that I feel has been Russell Martin's problem, as I have said in a different article, Defensive Issues Sorted is that at times he tends to make too many substitutions, a multiple substitution against Rotherham was more the cause of not winning the game than possession football, he needs to keep things simple.

So for me the side should be


KWP, THB/Holgate, Bednarek, Manning.

S Armstrong, Smallbone, Downes,

Sulemana A Armstrong, Alcaraz.

Subs Bench

McCarthy, Bree, Aribo, Adams, Charles, Fraser, Mara, Edozie and then one from Doyle, Amo-Ameyaw, Dibling.

That is a strong squad and it would be my preferred starting XI although I could be persuaded to bring in Shea Charles into the centre of defence.

The season is now about grinding out results, we have stemmed the losing streak and started an unbeaten run, we now have to turn this into a long unbeaten run and a winning streak of our own.

We win at Hull and then at Preston and the rest of the promotion chasing pack will have not only started to look over their shoulder, but could be looking up at us.

All that matters is the next game and keeping a winning run going.

So 3 points at Hull and we are starting to move onwards and upwards, promotion is not won by clubs who are in turmoil, it is won by those that keep grinding out the results and do so backed by their supporters, it is won by a united front, if Ryan Manning scores the winning goal at Hull and celebrates at the end in front of 2,000 jubilant Saints supporters, I see that as positive, nothing else and i hope that he repeats it next week.

Hull start Saturday one place ahead of us on goal difference, but their position in the table is based on their away forms where they have won 3 and drawn once, as opposed to at home where they have won just the once and drawn 4, the solitary win coming in the second game of the season against Sheffield Wednesday who as we know are rock bottom and a club in turmoil.

This division is not great in quality, as we have seen in previous seasons, clubs in the bottom 3 at Xmas can get in the play offs and vice versa, early pace setters can drop down the table.

We need to sit in the middle and just keep grinding the results out.

With respect to Hull we can go there and win and if we do then that is another step forward.

Photo: Action Images

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codge added 14:28 - Oct 20
Still can’t get around Smallbone and Manning yet as the answer to the position’s there asked to play,not impressed so far with both of them.

kenchilds70 added 17:56 - Oct 20
Or Sulemanas inability to help his defence when neccessary....after all a 20 goal a season player hes not

Bowlercow added 21:49 - Oct 20
I don't think Holgate is the only option at CB He could play Charles there again
Other questions are will Stewart be on the bench
Will Edozie get some game time
Will Alcaraz be to knackered after his trip or will Adams play
I just hope RM knows the right answers

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