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Adkins: 'We Have An Opportunity'

PUBLISHED

17:37 6th December 2012

Nigel Adkins says Saints should be looking to take maximum points from their upcoming St Mary's double-header against Reading and Sunderland.

With the trip to Chelsea on 15th December being postponed because of the Blues' continental commitments, we now go into our second batch of consecutive home games in less than a month.

And Adkins is determined that his players take advantage of a golden opportunity to improve their league position given they are currently sandwiched between their next two opponents in the Barclays Premier League standings.

"We have got to win our home games – I have said from the start of the campaign that the home form is important," the gaffer said ahead of Saturday's visit of the Royals. 

"We will take one game at a time, but the next two games that are coming up are ones against teams that are very close to us in the division. They are games that we have got to go and win.

"First and foremost we will concentrate on our performance, if we get that right then we will have an opportunity to win."

Saturday's opponents pipped Adkins' men to the Championship title last season, but – like Saints – have at times found it tough to adapt to life in the top-flight.

But the manager says both teams have given a good account of themselves in the first few months of the new campaign. 

"I think both clubs have done well after being promoted to the Premier League last season," he insisted. "When you get promoted to another level it is going to be challenging. 

"The players from both camps did ever so well last year in the Championship, and I think you have seen at this level there is a level of ruthlessness. If you give the opposition an opportunity, you will get punished.

"[We] may be at the wrong end of the table but we're both there competing and scoring goals, so this will be an exciting occasion for the supporters. We are looking forward to it.

"They (Reading) are a good, hard-working side who get the ball into good areas of the field and are good at what they do. 

"They have a good manager and their players know what they have to do and are effective at it.

"I think there will be goals in this game, though we have been very resolute defensively of late and our performances have dictated that.  We know we can score, and [now] we have a settled back four and goalkeeper. 

"We have a good shape about ourselves and players are becoming accustomed to the level.  We are improving all the time and I think that has been evident."

In terms of team news, Adkins said that he will assess Gastón Ramírez ahead of Saturday's game, with the playmaker having spent this week in his native Uruguay for family reasons.

And the gaffer was quick to dispel any rumours about the former Bologna star leaving the club permanently after he was linked with a return to Italy last weekend.

"Gastón had to go back [to Uruguay] on Sunday for compassionate reasons, but he is back with us and he will be in training tomorrow," said Adkins. 

"We will assess where he is and I will have a good conversation with him, but I am sure he will want to play at the weekend. He has been training in Uruguay and we have kept an eye on that. 

"I know he is very happy here," continued the manager. "He signed a long-term contract and is playing football.

"He is with us in Southampton and he isn’t looking at going anywhere. He is committed to us for the long term – I think everyone can rest assured about that."

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