West Brom v Southampton preview
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 05/11/12 7:15pm
West Brom tackle Southampton, live on Sky Sports 1HD
Southampton must address their porous defence when they tackle West Brom at The Hawthorns on Monday night if they are to lift themselves off the foot of the table.
Nigel Adkins' men have shipped 26 goals in their first nine matches, the worst ever defensive performance at this stage of a Premier League season, and if they continue to leak at this rate would concede 110 times over the season, 10 more than Swindon's unwanted divisional record of 1993/94.
The Saints' sorry start has seen Adkins' position come under fire, a staggering state of affairs given that he has guided the St Mary's side back into the top-flight following back-to-back promotions from League One.
They are yet to pick up a single point from four matches on their travels and come up against a West Brom side whose only defeat in front of their own supporters this season came in their last home game against 10-man Manchester City.
Steve Clarke's men have suffered late agony in each of their last two top-flight encounters, with the 2-1 reverse to the champions followed by heartbreak at the hands of Newcastle at St James' Park.
But victory for the Baggies would see them rocket to fifth in the table if they triumph by a two-goal margin, such has been the impressive nature of their start to the season, particularly on home turf, where they had won four in a row prior to City's visit.
One area of concern for the home supporters is that West Brom have played more Premier League games on a Monday without winning than any other side, having drawn five and lost eight of their 13 outings.
West Brom captain Chris Brunt and defender Billy Jones have recovered from hamstring and knee injuries respectively and are in contention.
Brunt and Jones suffered their setbacks against Aston Villa in late September and have missed three matches but both played an hour as over-age players for West Brom's under-21 side in midweek and have resumed training.
Head coach Steve Clarke is optimistic Shane Long will have recovered from a hamstring injury, while midfielder Claudio Yacob could also return from a similar problem.
Southampton could welcome back record signing Gaston Ramirez.
The 21-year-old Uruguayan has been missing for five weeks following a thigh problem, but Saints boss Nigel Adkins confirmed he has trained well this week.
Defender Frazer Richardson (groin) and midfielder Jack Cork (knee) remain sidelined, but Tadanari Lee featured in the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat to Leeds following his elbow injury and could make his league return.
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