'I'm pretty sure' - Russell Martin makes Preston North End prediction as Southampton warning sent

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The Southampton manager delivers his verdict on Preston North End ahead of their Sky Bet Championship meeting.

Southampton manager Russell Martin is expecting Preston North End to come at them with all guns blazing in their Sky Bet Championship clash this evening.

North End travel to St Mary's Stadium on the back of suffering a 1-0 defeat to Norwich City, which has made achieving a play-off place a nigh on impossible task. The Lilywhites after Gabriel Sara's 86th minute sickener at Deepdale are eight points behind the Canaries and even with a win tonight, they would need a perfect record whilst hoping for a slip up from those above them.

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The Saints have their play-off place all but booked but are still in with an outside chance of an automatic promotion spot but that seems unlikely at this stage. Southampton, who scored late to equalise in the reverse fixture between the two sides, have received the instruction from their manager to focus on their own game rather than worry about what threat Preston can pose them.

"Yeah, I think we spoke about that this morning," said Martin to the Daily Echo.

"I don't know what their approach will be. Whether they feel it's too much for them to get into the play-offs now - or if they feel they might as well just completely throw everything at it and have a go.

“I'm pretty sure it'll be that because of the mentality of their group and how hard they work. And they've had another really good season. But as I said, it's about us and our approach. We're chasing something ourselves, and something so big and it's so important. The players need to show that on the pitch."

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Southampton come in to the game on the back of a dramatic late win against Watford. Will Smallbone and Che Adams gave the Hampshire outfit a two goal lead but Ismael Kone equalised with five minutes remaining after Ryan Porteous had pulled a goal back in the first half. Flynn Downes had different plans however and scored in the ninth minute of additional time to make for jubilant scenes at St Mary's.

The hosts for tonight's game have now won their last two matches and have lost just one of their last seven matches. The former Swansea City boss has noted that his team are reverting back to how they were when they went on a long unbeaten run but that there is still room for improvement.

"There were some tired bodies and tired minds, and also the emotion of the game," added Martin.

"I was exhausted on Sunday - the emotion we all felt and how it happened. We have a brilliant group of players as well so it's up to us to use the quality of the squad, but also determine which are the best players for this game. Whatever team we put out, we will be confident that it's one that can win, because it's another tough challenge for us."

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"I think we've gone back to being really hard to beat and really hard to play against, and we need to continue that. There's lots of stuff we need to improve on on Saturday, but we were the best team, and we deserved to win, in my opinion.

“I'm really pleased with the guys, the character they dug in and showed - and we're going to have to show that in abundance over the next five games. But it's all about (Tuesday) now, and we need to take care of that. It's really that simple."

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