Southamp­ton remain in the hunt for auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion as they reside in fourth place, nine points adrift of Leeds Unit­ed at the sum­mit.

The South Coast­ers have two games in hand on the West York­shire club and they are set to face each oth­er on the final day.

A top-two fin­ish is cer­tain­ly still in reach for Southamp­ton, despite many writ­ing them off. Rus­sell Mar­tin believes the under­dog role favours them.

“We have to take care of our­selves. The beau­ti­ful thing for us is that we have been writ­ten off by every­one,” Mar­tin said in Thursday’s press con­fer­ence.

“We have aver­aged two points a game and we have been com­plete­ly writ­ten off which is real­ly inter­est­ing and shows the qual­i­ty of the oth­er teams.”

Southamp­ton will have to use those naysay­ers as moti­va­tion and Mar­tin will be hop­ing for a third con­sec­u­tive win against Mid­dles­brough on Fri­day after­noon.

It’ll be a dif­fi­cult test and one that may require a piece of indi­vid­ual bril­liance late on.

Russell Martin should use Samuel Amo-Ameyaw as a super-sub

Southampton v Watford - Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay
Pho­to by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Get­ty Images

Boro, who still have an out­side chance of reach­ing the play-offs, will look to be defen­sive­ly res­olute on Fri­day. So it could be a close-fought encounter, with a moment of mag­ic poten­tial­ly sep­a­rat­ing the two sides.

Mar­tin shouldn’t hes­i­tate to use Samuel Amo-Ameyaw off the bench, par­tic­u­lar­ly against tir­ing Boro defend­ers.

The 17-year-old has shone in the reserve side this sea­son and picked up the Most Valu­able Play­er award at an inter­na­tion­al tour­na­ment with England’s under-18s last week.

Amo-Ameyaw has reg­is­tered 11 goal con­tri­bu­tions in nine games for the under-21s and is con­sid­ered one of the bright­est prospects at Sta­ple­wood.

Russell Martin is well aware of Samuel Amo-Ameyaw’s talent

The 2006-born wide play­er has already made eight senior appear­ances and Mar­tin is well aware of his tal­ent.

Speak­ing last July, the Saints boss said: “You’ve got to be real­ly care­ful with young play­ers but he’s an excep­tion­al tal­ent.

“He’s a real­ly excit­ing play­er and a great kid. He was 17 a few days ago and he’s signed his first pro­fes­sion­al con­tract.

“There’s a real edge to him on the pitch. he’s got a real pitch per­son­al­i­ty for some­one so young. I think the oth­er play­ers real­ly respect his abil­i­ty and atti­tude to work.”

Saints will have to man­age him accord­ing­ly head­ing into the busi­ness end of the cam­paign with the pres­sure ramp­ing up.

Aged just 17, he can’t be thrust straight into action, Mar­tin needs to find the right moment to unleash his ‘excep­tion­al’ wild­card.

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