The busi­ness end of the Cham­pi­onship sea­son is upon us and Southamp­ton are still in the mix for auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion.

Rus­sell Martin‘s side reside in fourth, nine points adrift of Leeds, and are seen as out­siders in the pro­mo­tion race by many.

But with their two games in hand on rivals Ipswich Town and Leeds, they still have every chance of a top-two fin­ish.

Add that to the fact they still have the afore­men­tioned pair to play, plus Leices­ter, they remain well-placed in this incred­i­ble Cham­pi­onship cam­paign.

The top two are on course to fin­ish on 99 and 101 points respec­tive­ly, so if that were to be the case, 98 points wouldn’t be enough to fin­ish inside the auto­mat­ic spots, which is just mind-blow­ing.

With that said, if Saints are to end the sea­son strong­ly and book their place back in the top flight, they’ll need to call upon expe­ri­enced play­ers like Joe Roth­well.

Joe Rothwell pivotal to Southampton’s promotion hopes

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

Since arriv­ing on loan from Bournemouth in the win­ter trans­fer win­dow, Roth­well has had a huge impact, even if it hasn’t always been from the start.

Roth­well has often appeared off the bench and has become Saints’ super sub on two occa­sions in recent weeks.

Against Hud­der­s­field Town, he net­ted a brace in a 5–3 vic­to­ry and he was on the score­sheet twice in a 4–2 win over Sun­der­land ear­li­er this month.

Speak­ing after the Sun­der­land clash, Mar­tin hailed the loanee‘s fin­ish­ing abil­i­ty: “Joe is an amaz­ing fin­ish­er. The first one looks easy but it isn’t, it is in the half vol­ley, and then with the sec­ond he’s showed great com­po­sure.

“He was real­ly great when he came on. Him and Joe Ari­bo can be frus­trat­ed that they aren’t start­ing but they have two guys in front of them who have been play­ing real­ly well.”

It’s not only his knack for pop­ping up with impor­tant goals that will be cru­cial head­ing into the run-in but also his vast expe­ri­ence.

Joe Rothwell’s experience will lend itself well to young Southampton group

Roth­well has made 161 appear­ances in the Cham­pi­onship through­out his career and is one of the senior mem­bers of Saints’ dress­ing room.

Southamp­ton are a young team and Mar­tin named a start­ing line-up with an aver­age age of 23 years and six months old ear­li­er in the sea­son, one of the youngest XI’s in the club’s his­to­ry, as per Trans­fer­markt.

So the empha­sis will be on play­ers like Roth­well to guide and sup­port the young­sters, who may feel the pres­sures of the pro­mo­tion race more than oth­ers.

The 29-year-old might not fea­ture as a reg­u­lar starter but his role in the final 10 games of the sea­son shouldn’t be under­stat­ed.

Roth­well will be absolute­ly inte­gral for Mar­tin.

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