Davis could be hit by ban for U's visit

SOUTHAMPTON keeper Kelvin Davis has a suspension hanging over his head for tonight's visit of Colchester United.The former Ipswich Town custodian was hit with a Football Association misconduct charge yesterday, following an incident during last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

By Carl Marston

SOUTHAMPTON keeper Kelvin Davis has a suspension hanging over his head for tonight's visit of Colchester United.

The former Ipswich Town custodian was hit with a Football Association misconduct charge yesterday, following an incident during last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

Davis appeared to kick out at Stoke striker Jon Parkin. Referee Neil Swarbrick missed the incident, but it has since been picked up by video footage.


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The 30-year-old has denied the charge, but faces a three-match suspension if his appeal is not upheld at a hearing this morning.

Manager George Burley said: “It won't be a personal hearing but we have written a letter to deny the charge and they will make a decision tomorrow.”

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Polish Under-21 international Bartosz Bialkowski is set to replace Davis if that suspension does kick-in.

Bialkowski celebrated his debut with a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace just over a year ago. The teenager went on to keep four clean sheets in six games, until suffering cruciate ligament damage in an FA Cup fifth round tie at Newcastle United. But he has since regained full fitness.

The Saints looked red hot favourites for at least a play-off place until a fortnight ago but they now have to make up for some lost ground after failing to win any of their last three matches.

George Burley's side have slipped to eighth spot, three points adrift of the top six, after suffering away defeats at Preston (3-1) and Stoke (2-1), and losing a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Stoke City on Tuesday night.

Their last success was over another of Burley's old clubs, Ipswich, on February 24. A first- minute goal from Marek Saganowski was enough to secure a 1-0 victory.

Burley has certainly experienced his share of highs and lows since he dramatically resigned as Colchester United manager on Christmas Eve, 1994.

He has had success and disappointment at Ipswich, Derby and Hearts, and is now charged with the job of nursing Southampton back into the Premiership.

Scoring goals has not been a problem for the Saints (60). Only West Brom (65) have scored more, with three strikers having reached double figures in the shape of Grzegorz Rasiak (20), Kenwyne Jones (14) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (10).

But they also have the leakiest defence of all the top 10 teams, and since the turn of the year they have only won four of their 12 league fixtures.

At left-back, though, they have the most promising teenager in the Championship - 17-year-old Gareth Bale was recently named the Football League's young player of the year at their annual awards ceremony.

In fact, former youth teamer Bale was third in the senior rankings, behind West Brom's Jason Koumas and Preston's David Nugent.

Burley's boys were out of luck at Layer Road last October, when goals from Kevin McLeod and Jamie Cureton secured a 2-0 win for the U's. The Saints peppered the target during a dramatic last few minutes, but could not find a way past keeper Aidan Davison.

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