Southamp­ton are still in with a shot at win­ning auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion, and they are helped by the sheer qual­i­ty that Rus­sell Mar­tin has at his dis­pos­al.

Southamp­ton enter the inter­na­tion­al break nine points behind sec­ond-place Leices­ter, who for a long time were run­ning away with the Cham­pi­onship title.

With two games in hand after beat­ing Birm­ing­ham City and Sun­der­land, Rus­sell Martin‘s men will be con­fi­dent of bridg­ing that gap and gate­crash­ing the league’s top two.

Although the relent­less pace being set at the top rais­es doubts over their chances, the Saints shouldn’t be dis­count­ed as they’ve still got to play Ipswich Town and Leices­ter as well as Leeds Unit­ed on the final day.

Southampton’s pro­mo­tion chal­lenge is also made eas­i­er by boast­ing play­ers who can change a game.

Mar­tin has the lux­u­ry of select­ing a tal­ent­ed start­ing XI that is far too good for the Cham­pi­onship, includ­ing Stu­art Arm­strong in mid­field, David Brooks on the wing and Adam Arm­strong up front.

Those three play­ers, along with sev­er­al oth­ers, are the main rea­son Southamp­ton are in with a real shout of return­ing to the Pre­mier League.

Southampton FC v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Pho­to by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Get­ty Images

Adrian Clarke hails Southampton trio as ‘real class’

In a star-stud­ded Saints squad that includes the likes of Che Adams, Jan Bednarek and Kyle Walk­er-Peters, Mar­tin has a pletho­ra of tal­ent to choose from across the pitch.

This makes it dif­fi­cult to sin­gle out just a few play­ers for cred­it, but speak­ing on the What the EFL?! pod­cast, pun­dit Adri­an Clarke has been most impressed with Stu­art Arm­strong, Brooks and Adam Arm­strong.

He believes those three play­ers can win match­es sin­gle-hand­ed­ly and shouldn’t be com­plete­ly ruled out in the race for pro­mo­tion.

“They’ve also got some real class indi­vid­u­als like David Brooks,” Clarke said. “I think Stu­art Arm­strong has been bril­liant this sea­son, Adam Arm­strong too. In these big match­es, they’ve got play­ers who are capa­ble of win­ning it on their own. So, I wouldn’t com­plete­ly rule them out yet.”

Southampton’s attack is clicking into gear

Southamp­ton are right not to be dis­count­ed out of the pro­mo­tion race.

The Saints have two games in hand and have every chance of col­lect­ing max­i­mum points to go right behind their rivals, but any dropped points would feel like a mas­sive blow at this stage of the sea­son.

After putting four past Birm­ing­ham and Sun­der­land, Southampton’s dev­as­tat­ing attack has clicked into gear.

A two-week break from action now gives the play­ers a rest and a chance for Mar­tin to empha­size his style on the train­ing ground ahead of an action-packed sched­ule.

Southamp­ton face nine games in the space of 29 days and while that will be tax­ing on the play­ers phys­i­cal­ly, if they can car­ry their clin­i­cal edge into that peri­od, the Saints will be a side that many teams will fear.

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