MIDFIELDER Joe Roth­well admit­ted he would rather Saints were not play­ing “catch up” due to hav­ing games being post­poned.

Southamp­ton will be two games behind their pro­mo­tion rivals Leeds Unit­ed and Ipswich Town by the time they face Mid­dles­bor­ough on March, 29.

Rus­sell Mar­t­in’s side are already six points off the pace in the bat­tle for the auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion spots but that gap could be stretched ahead of the inter­na­tion­al break.

Kier­an McKen­na’s Ipswich host rel­e­ga­tion-threat­en Sheffield Wednes­day while sec­ond-place Leeds wel­come an inform Mill­wall to Elland Road next Sat­ur­day.

Saints had been sched­uled to face league lead­ers Leices­ter on Fri­day night, but that game was rearranged fol­low­ing the Fox­es’ pro­gres­sion in the FA Cup.

Those com­plex­i­ties mean Southamp­ton’s 4–2 win over Sun­der­land was all the more impor­tant accord­ing to match-win­ner Roth­well.

“It’s a mas­sive result,” he said. “We have got a long break now, but I feel it has come at the right time after a load of games in this last month or so.

Daily Echo: Russell Martin was full of praise for Joe Rothwell on SaturdayRus­sell Mar­tin was full of praise for Joe Roth­well on Sat­ur­day

READ MORE: ‘Amaz­ing fin­ish­er’ — Mar­tin hails Roth­well after super-sub brace against Sun­der­land

“This is a real good chance now for the lads to get their legs up, rest and recov­er so we can go into those last 10 games rar­ing to go.”

After the inter­na­tion­al break, Southamp­ton will have to play 10 games in 36 days.

While Roth­well admits oth­er play­ers may see things dif­fer­ent­ly, he would rather get the fix­tures done than play catch up.

“We have got to play those games and then let’s look at the table when they have been played. Every game is going to be mas­sive between now and the end of the sea­son.

“I don’t think the num­bers that the four teams at the top have put in will be seen again. If one team slips up then there will be anoth­er side ready to come in and take full advan­tage of that.” 

Roth­well’s impact against Sun­der­land was hailed by boss Mar­tin at full-time. The Cher­ries loa­nee scored twice in three min­utes to win it.

His intro­duc­tion came after the Black Cats clawed their way back into the game with two long-range strikes in a game pre­vi­ous­ly dom­i­nat­ed by the St Mary’s side. 

“I felt there were chances (to be had),” the 29 year old added. “They went man for man all over the pitch so I knew there would be space in behind their defence.

“If we could pick it up and pick the right pass there would be chances. The gaffer brought me on and told me to be free and try to get a goal.

“Thank­ful­ly, two have fall­en nice­ly for me today. I’m hap­py with the first one. My tech­nique is some­thing that I pride myself on.

Daily Echo: Joe Rothwell has scored four goals since joining on loan from AFC BournemouthJoe Roth­well has scored four goals since join­ing on loan from AFC Bournemouth (Image: PA)

“Strik­ing the ball is some­thing that I work hard on most days. I knew if I got my head over the ball and caught it sweet then it had a good chance of going in.

He con­tin­ued: “I was think­ing more about the games than the goals when I arrived, I’m not renowned for get­ting them. If I can keep doing that then I’ll be more than hap­py.

“It doesn’t mat­ter who scores the goals as long as we win the games. The main rea­son I came here was games. The way Southamp­ton play was a mas­sive plus for me. 

“I have enjoyed my time here. Long may it con­tin­ue. I don’t want to be mak­ing a name for myself as a super-sub. But if I can come on and help the team then that is all that mat­ters.”