Date:Friday January 27 2006
Beware the little Latvian. Marian Pahars is back on top form for the Saints and poses a major threat to Leicester City in their FA Cup clash at the Walkers on Saturday (3-00).
After struggling for fitness and form, the creative Latvian international has completed two games in a week for Saints including their latest home 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Leicester will be relieved that they don't have to cope with teenaged wing sensation Theo Walcott who recently moved to Arsenal for a reported £12.5 million, a world record for a scholarship player.
But Pahars has tried hard to fill the gap and his re-emergence, according to Vitalfootball's Southampton site 'it is like signing a top quality player that we could never attract now.'
As for Leicester, these are troubled times for Southampton with 12,000 Southampton fans waving red cards calling for the club chairman Rupert Lowe to go before Wednesday's kick-off.
The club is also said to be the target of a takeover by a consortium determined to get them back into the Premiership.
An opportunity for them to progress in the FA Cup is therefore welcome relief and among their squad is likely to be reported one-time City target Brett Ormorod.
Southampton will also be able to include newly signed 28-year-old Canadian international defender Jim Brennan, signed on a free from Norwich until the end of the season. Brennan played 48 times for the Canaries after joining them from Forest.
Saints have also signed Republic of Ireland international midfielder Darren Potter on loan from Liverpool until the end of the season. The 21-year-old has been injured and has joined the Saints to get first team action after falling out of selection contention at Anfield.
Out for Southampton are Rory Delap and Djamel Belmadi with achilles tendon injuries and Darren Kenton who is banned.
Rob Kelly reports a relatively clean bill of health from the Leicester camp. Tiatto is definitely out and there remains doubt about Gareth Williams winning his fight for fitness.
Patrik Gerrbrand's wife had a baby but the centre-back is expected to be available and otherwise the City caretaker should have a full squad to choose from.
Most intriquing will be who he chooses for left-back and for right-sided midfield/right wing.
He must also offer his opinion on City's strongest front pairing with Fryatt, DeVries, Hume, Hammond and O'Grady the obvious contestants.
Finally, there is his choice of tactics and whether he plays enough people with attacking capabilities to properly press the game or instead favours the more cautious approach that has characterised City's teams almost all season.
Kelly has little to lose really, apart from a football match, but much to gain. One cannot imagine he would want to squander that chance with a whimper.
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