But for the grace of God . . .

BATTLING relegation and facing administration once again.That is the parlous state of Southampton today and there but for the grace of God, or more accurately Marcus Evans' cheque book, goes Ipswich Town.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

BATTLING relegation and facing administration once again.

That is the parlous state of Southampton today and there but for the grace of God, or more accurately Marcus Evans' cheque book, goes Ipswich Town.

The Blues owner, who has shelled out in excess of �12m since buying the Blues and its debts for less than �20m, 14 months ago, considered making a move for the Saints before deciding on the Portman Road outfit.

Both clubs were in the Premier League not too long ago, it was just seven years ago yesterday when Town surrendered to a 3-1 defeat sadly remembered for woeful defending when veteran Chris Marsden waltzed through the Ipswich side, now Town are 10th in the table and looking towards the play-off places, while the Saints are third bottom staring at the drop.

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Blues number two John Gorman has close connections to both clubs, knows how similar they are, and

“They made a lot of changes for financial reasons. It is such a wonderful club.

“They play an exciting passing style of football and gave great support like Ipswich. They are small provincial towns with big clubs that want to be in the Premiership again.

“I recognise what they are trying to do. The chairman gets a lot of stick but he is honest and is trying to do what is best for the club.

“That is football life.”

A Town victory would help east Anglian rivals Norwich who are scrapping with Southampton to pull away of the drop zone and Gorman hopes the Saints succeed.

He said: “I would not like to see them go down at all because it is a wonderful club.

I will worry about that after Tuesday night because we need the points then I hope they get clear.”

Gorman was taken on at St Mary's by George Burley when they came close to going up via the play-offs. He stayed when Burley went to Scotland to become national manager and took over as caretaker manager last season with Nigel Pearson and, with a bit of help from on-loan Richard Wright, kept them in the Championship.

But a lack of finances meant a summer of upheaval and Jan Poortlvliet in charge. He went in January with assistant Mark Wotte taking over as head coach and results have shown an improvement since then.

Gorman said: “Southampton play a bit more direct since the new man took over. They used to play total football then went a bit in between.

“I know all bar about two of the players as they were all there when I was there. They have some talent there that is for sure.”

After a draw with Swansea and then beating Preston and Cardiff, Saints are in decent form but have won just once in seven away games.

Gorman said: “They are on the back of two wins and we had two wins before Saturday but our confidence is still very, very high because of the way we played.

“We have nothing to fear and go into the game full of confidence knowing if we win this and the other games at home we will have a chance of the play-offs. We also know if we carry on playing the way we have away from home we will pick up points there too.

“Southampton have to keep doing well because they need the points. They will be fired up because they have won two in a row and need the points but if we get the type of performance we had against QPR and at home against Forest when we won then we should be fine.”

With Moritz Volz out with a groin strain and Ben Thatcher struggling with a foot injury, Pim Balkestein partners Gareth McAuley in central defence with David Wright on the left and Alex Bruce in at right back. Town are also waiting on Jon Walters so David Norris could keep his place in midfield.

Gorman said: “We are hopeful on Jon. He got a dead leg on Saturday but should be okay.”

Danny Haynes is not expected to be quite ready after his hamstring pull but Iv�n Campo is close to a comeback after being out for five week with a calf strain and is pencilled in to play for the reserves tomorrow afternoon.

Ipswich Town: R Wright, Supple, D Wright, Bruce, McAuley, Balkestein, Shumulikoski, Garvan, Campo, Quinn, Miller, Civelli, Norris, Walters, Bowditch, Lisbie, Counago, Stead.

Southampton: Davis, Forecast, James, Skacel, Smith, Perry, Saeijs, Llana, Schneiderlin, McGoldrick, Gillett, Wright-Phillips, Surman, Paterson, Gobern, Liptak, Saganowski, Euell,

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk