Newcastle boss Alan Pardew impressed with progress of former club Southampton
Alan Pardew is glad that Southampton have gone from strength to strength since he departed the club.
Last Updated: 23/11/12 4:34pm
The Newcastle manager spent an eventful 13-month spell in charge at St Mary's before being sacked in August 2010 and he returns to St Mary's with the Magpies on Sunday.
Pardew dragged Saints to the brink of promotion, despite a 10-point deduction, and Nigel Adkins continued the good work by leading the club to back-to-back promotions.
The 51-year-old is impressed with the team's progress and feels striker Rickie Lambert can make a big impact in the top flight.
"I enjoyed my time there and I am looking forward to going back," he said. "There will be some memories because we won a trophy when I was there and we were minus 10 points and we built a side.
"It will be interesting to meet a few of the people there who I had great relationships with. There are some great players there who have done phenomenally well.
"Rickie Lambert, who I took to the club, I am so proud of him. I always said he could be a Premier League player and he is proving it.
"[Adam] Lallana and [Jose] Fonte, people like that, and Kelvin [Davis], it will be nice to see those guys who are still in and around the team.
"They have made the transition well. They have acquitted themselves very well and are unlucky not to have won against the Manchester clubs on both occasions."
When asked about Lambert, he said: "I signed him at 28 from Bristol Rovers. Plenty had talked about him, but no-one went for him.
"I paid £1million for him and I said I thought he could take us to the Premier League, and he has proved me right, so I am pleased about that."
The Magpies head south depleted by injuries and suspension and having lost their last two home league games to West Ham and Swansea.
Even their progression to the knockout stages of the Europa League came courtesy of an unconvincing 1-1 draw with Maritimo at St James' Park, and Pardew admits life on Tyneside is tough at the moment.
He said: "I looked at my board this morning and I have got 11 senior players not available for Southampton. That's a blow for any Premier League club, so it makes it difficult.
"We had ambitions to be in and around that Champions League position and we are far from that, so we need to try to get some results.
"Probably for us with the players we have available, it's going to be about hard work and grinding some wins out, which isn't really our style, but that's probably where we are at at the minute."
Pardew will be without suspended skipper Fabricio Coloccini and the in-form Hatem Ben Arfa, whose hamstring injury is likely to sideline him for a fortnight, but not much longer.
Such are the manager's difficulties that former Southampton trainee Nile Ranger, whose well-documented off-field problems have seen him plummet from contention, has been recalled to the squad.