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Exeter 19:45 Portsmth

Southampton v Portsmouth preview

By Adam Marshall.   Last Updated: 19/12/03 1:05pm

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Sky's live Sunday Premiership Plus game pairs Southampton with South Coast rivals Portsmouth.

The two sides have not met in a league encounter for 16 years and The St Mary's Stadium is bracing itself for an explosive encounter.

South Coast rivalry was recently resurrected in a Carling Cup clash, with Southampton enjoying a 2-0 victory courtesy of two James Beattie strikes.

Saints manager Gordon Strachan will be hopeful of a repeat performance and the fiery Scot goes into the game with a fully-fit squad to select from.

Greame Le Saux has returned to training following a hamstring complaint that has kept him out for the previous three weeks.

Although the former England full back is unlikely to be risked, The Saints are ready to recall Beattie and Claus Lundekvam - who both return from short-term lay-offs.

The form of England striker Beattie could be critical in the deciding of the derby clash, with the former Blackburn man having scored seven Premiership goals for The Saints this season.

Pompey go into the game short on confidence having not registered a win in four Premiership matches, dating back to their 6-1 demolition of Leeds in November.

Harry Redknapp is desperate to regain the early season form that earmarked Portsmouth as a Premiership surprise package and will be aware that a confidence boosting derby victory could revitalise his side's season.

Whilst Southampton are enjoying a clean bill of health, Pompey are set to be without six first team players.

Influential midfielders Steve Stone and Patrik Berger are ruled out through suspension, along with Dutch centre back Arjan De Zeeuw.

On the injury-front, Nigel Quashie is struggling with a knee injury and Vincent Pericard is missing due to a longer-term thigh injury.

Senegalese midfielder Amdy Faye continues to be plagued by a knee injury that has kept him on the sidelines for the previous five weeks.

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