December 22, 2012
Saints must cope without their captain
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.4||1.1|
|Goals against *||1.3||1.8|
|Last 5 home||D-L-D-W-W||D-D-W-L-D|
|Last 5 away||D-L-D-W-D||L-L-W-L-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Southampton | Sunderland|
|12/7||H: Manchester City||12/7||H: Tottenham Hotspur|
|12/14||A: Newcastle United||12/14||A: West Ham United|
|12/22||H: Tottenham Hotspur||12/21||H: Norwich City|
|12/26||A: Cardiff City||12/26||A: Everton|
|12/29||A: Everton||12/28||A: Cardiff City|
Adam Lallana is Southampton's only absentee for the Barclays Premier League match with Sunderland.
The Saints captain suffered a knee injury in the defeat of Reading and, while coy on the severity of the complaint, manager Nigel Adkins confirmed he will not be available at St Mary's.
The south coast club can, though, welcome back goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga from a shoulder injury, while Frazer Richardson and Richard Chaplow are also back in contention.
Saints will be looking to continue their impressive form when another struggling side come to St Mary's.
Sunderland have lost three of their four matches this month, including last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Manchester United.
Saints, by contrast, have had a two-week break due to their scheduled fixtures against Chelsea being postponed due to the west Londoners' World Club Cup commitments.
"It has given us a little bit of time to recharge our batteries and getting going again for this busy month,'' Jack Cork said.
"If you look at it another way, it gets you out of the flow of the games.
"We were on a half-decent run and maybe having that game last weekend would have kept the game going.
"We'll have to see and hopefully the game has done as good and go into the next game with the same sort of confidence.''
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will await the results of late fitness tests on a trio of key players before naming his team.
Full-backs Phil Bardsley (knee), Danny Rose (ankle) and striker Steven Fletcher (back) have returned to light training, but are yet to prove they are ready to play at the St Mary's Stadium.
Skipper Lee Cattermole remains on the long-term casualty list with a knee ligament injury, and David Meyler is set to be recalled from his loan spell at npower Championship Hull after tonight's game at Derby to add to the cover.
Given what lies ahead, a win over the Saints would provide a significant boost, although the 60-year-old O'Neill knows that will be easier said than done.
He said: "They are playing well. They seem to have overcome their initial difficulties in the league, they are getting used to it now.
"Like ourselves, they retain a good spirit and they are in decent form themselves.''