Saints have the opportunity to climb away from a relegation rival when we host Reading for tomorrow’s 3pm kick-off.
The Royals – who, like Southampton, were promoted from the npower Championship in the summer – currently sit second-bottom in the Barclays Premier League standings with nine points from 14 games.
A home win this weekend could, therefore, give Saints a six-point advantage over the side that pipped us to the Championship title in April and move us further away from the bottom of the league.
Reading have won just one Premier League game since returning to the top flight, but their six draws have kept them in touch with the teams around them.
As Saints were in September, the Royals were involved in a thriller against Manchester United last weekend – Brian McDermott’s side were three-two up after 23 minutes but United hit back to lead four-three at the break, with the second half ending goalless.
Tomorrow’s opponents have lost three of their last four away games – including a one-nil loss to fellow strugglers Aston Villa – and have picked up just two points on the road this season.
Saints will assess the fitness of Gastón Ramírez after he returned to training today having spent the week in his native Uruguay on compassionate leave.
Danny Fox and Richard Chaplow are nearing returns from knee injuries, while Frazer Richardson is close to recovering from the thigh problem that has kept him out for the past two months.
If Ramírez is passed fit, Nigel Adkins could well name an unchanged starting XI for the sixth consecutive game with no new injuries reported on the back of last week’s defeat at Liverpool.
Pavel Pogrebnyak – Reading’s top scorer so far this season with five goals – is a doubt after he picked up a knock in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Stevenage in midweek.
Midfielders Danny Guthrie and Jem Karacan should be fit after respective shin and knee problems, but Jimmy Kebe (groin) is likely to miss out again.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week and will be out for the majority of the season.
It’s just under eight months since we last hosted Reading, when both clubs were pushing for promotion to the Premier League and battling for the Championship title.
The Royals ran out 3-1 winners in that Friday-night fixture – Jason Roberts put the visitors ahead until Rickie Lambert levelled, but a late double from Adam Le Fondre consigned Saints to defeat.
That game was the Berkshire side’s third-ever visit to St Mary’s, with the previous two ending in draws.
We last beat Reading in 2008, when Bradley Wright-Phillips’ double helped us to a 2-1 win at the Madejski Stadium.
Overall, we have faced tomorrow’s opponents 39 times – 14 of those have ended in victory, 14 in draws and 11 in defeat.
Tomorrow’s game will be refereed by Mr J Moss. The assistant referees are Mr D C Richards and Mr J Brooks, with Mr M Naylor acting as the fourth official.
Tickets remain on sale for the match – click here to find out how to buy yours.
Your photos from tomorrow’s game will be included in the next edition of our official matchday programme for the visit of Sunderland on Saturday 22nd December.
Send your pictures from throughout the day to us via Twitter and Instagram with the #MarchingIn hashtag, or direct to our editorial team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most creative and original pictures will be included in the next programme, with the fan who sends us our favourite image winning a signed copy!
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Nigel Adkins and José Fonte spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews – plus their full press conferences – now.