Match Preview: Southampton v Preston North End

SOUTHAMPTON welcome Preston North End to St Mary’s stadium tonight, just over a month on from the original postponed fixture.

As the original fixture was postponed due to a large fire in a nearby industrial building, both sides come into tonight’s match in different form.

Saints secured a dramatic last minute victory thanks to a Flynn Downes toe poke over Watford on Saturday, while the Lilywhites fell to a narrow defeat against Norwich City.

Victory on Saturday for Saints meant that automatic promotion hopes for Russell Martin’s side were far from over with his side sitting just seven points behind second placed Leicester with two games in hand.

The South Coast side play four more times and could find themselves top of the league if all results go perfectly for them before current league leaders Ipswich Town play again.

With automatic promotion all but gone just a few weeks ago, Saints’ turn around in form with just one defeat in seven and their promotion rivals’ dip in form has given the team and fans belief of a Premier League return again.

Meanwhile, the visitors come into tonight in a worse place than a month ago, after a narrow 1-0 defeat to Norwich City at the weekend all but ended their play-off hopes.

That defeat meant that Ryan Lowe’s side now occupy 10th place, eight points behind Norwich City on 71 points in 6th place and the last playoff place.

With just four games remaining for the Lilywhites this season, it means that practically only a near-perfect run in is required to finish inside the top six.

Despite this, Preston come into this game with three wins in the last five, including an emphatic 4-1 home win over Huddersfield Town last Tuesday.

Hitman Milutin Osmajic will be full of confidence ahead of tonight after coming off the bench to net an eight-minute hat-trick in the win against Huddersfield Town.

Russell Martin has confirmed his side have no fresh injury concerns ahead of tonight with only long term absentees Ross Stewart and Juan Larios remaining out.

The Scotsman could opt to freshen up his side brining in the likes of Stuart Armstrong and Jan Bednarak into the starting XI.

While Ryan Lowe’s side are without the reliable Liam Miller on the wing, with the Basel Loanee potentially out for the rest of the season with a groin strain.

The Lilywhites’ options at wingback are limited with Brad Potts being touch and go ahead of the game.

In an almost sell out St Mary’s under the lights, Southampton will look to make it three wins out of three strengthening their hunt for automatic promotion.