Mauricio Pochettino is in all likelihood set to face a hostile atmosphere at St Marys’ as he takes charge of his first match in charge of Southampton after controversially replacing Nigel Adkins as manager last Friday. Adkins, who was popular with both players and fans, had led his side on an impressive run of only two defeats from their last 12 games to currently leave them in 15th place, three points above the drop zone with a superior goal difference to the sides around them.
Pochettino could give a debut to Norwegian defender Vegard Forren, whose transfer from Norwegian club Molde was confirmed on the same day as the new boss’ arrival. Elsewhere, top scorer Rickie Lambert, the highest English goalscorer in the Premier League could be handed a start after coming off the bench to equalise in the draw at Chelsea in midweek. Captain Adam Lallana faces a fitness test but Jose Fonte is ruled out until February.
Everton remain in pursuit of the fourth Champions League place and David Moyes will know that victory on the South Coast would not only bring the Toffees to within one point of Tottenham in fourth place, but extend their lead over fifth-placed and sixth-placed Arsenal and Liverpool to six points.
Moyes is not expected to risk striker Kevin Mirallas, despite the Belgian’s recovery from a hamstring injury that has kept him out for two months. Elsewhere, Jonny Heitinga faces a fitness test on a muscle injury but is hopeful of featuring while Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert remain absent with thigh and calf injuries respectively. Victor Anichebe is challenging Nikica Jelavic for a start up front.
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