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Adkins loving relegation dogfight

ESPN staff
November 5, 2012
Nigel Adkins: 'You have to face things and man up' © PA Photos
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Nigel Adkins insists he is not feeling the pressure as Southampton continue their battle to avoid relegation when they take on West Brom at the Hawthorns on Monday.

Southampton are currently bottom of the Premier League with just four points from their opening nine matches, but despite rumours he is on the verge of being axed by the Saints, Adkins says he is "loving every minute".

"I was odds-on favourite to be the first manager sacked even before a ball had been kicked, so nothing has changed in that respect," Adkins said. "This is my biggest challenge in football and I am loving every minute of it.

"At times like this you have to face things and man up. At the moment the supporters are still with us, the players are still with us and I am still with them. Of course we would like to have more points on the board but everyone is expecting us to be the finished article straight away and we have come a long way in short period of time."

Adkins is hoping record signing Gaston Ramirez can kickstart Southampton's season as he returns from a month out with a leg injury.

"A big plus is that Gaston Ramirez has trained well this week and we are looking for him to be included," he said. "He's a smashing little man and a quality footballer.

"He doesn't know the language, but he knows football. Gaston's given us a boost. I want to be manager here for as long as possible - but what will be, will be. If you want to remain in your job, you have to win games.

"With players returning from injury and new players who have now settled in a bit more - the unity we have is stronger and we can move forward with confidence. We are not where we want to be in terms of points or league position so we must start climbing the table - starting against West Brom."

West Brom player to watch: On-loan striker Romelu Lukaku has been guilty of spurning a hatful of chances in front of goal in recent weeks, but West Brom boss Steve Clarke believes it is only a matter of time before the Chelsea man, who he describes as a "big talent" will start to fire.

Southampton: Southampton would love nothing more than for Gaston Ramirez to justify his hefty £12 million price tag by inspiring the Saints to victory at the Hawthorns. Having made just three appearances before being sidlined with a thigh injury, Ramirez's return could just save Nigel Adkins' job.

Betting: With three goals to his name already this season, including a winner against Reading, Lukaku has enjoyed an impressive start to his loan spell with the Baggies. Back him to score in a 3-2 win at odds of 30/1 with bet365.

Prediction: 2-2

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