When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Lukas Jutkiewicz wants Southampton to beat Coventry on Saturday
COVENTRY'S top scorer wants Saints to win against the Sky Blues this weekend and finally seal promotion back to the big time.
Middlesbrough striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, a lifelong Saints fan, hopes his hometown club win automatic promotion by beating his former Coventry City teammates.
A former Saints academy striker, Southampton-born Jutkiewicz expected to end the season by playing his first game at St Mary’s with Coventry, before his January move to the North East meant playing the role of party pooper last week instead.
Jutkiwiecz had a goal disallowed for offside just before half-time at the Riverside, before winning the free-kick from which Marouane Zemmama scored the goal that has taken Saints’ season to the final day.
Now he is aiming to fire Middlesbrough into the top six – but does not want to be joining Saints in the play-offs next week.
He said: “With Coventry already relegated, there’s no conflict of interest for me there anymore. I’m just hoping Southampton can finish the job and I’m sure they will.
“I still speak to a few of the boys at Coventry, they’re pretty low. They had a glimmer of hope at one stage but staying up was always going to be an uphill task.
“Relegation’s looked inevitable there for a long while. The way the club is cutting costs reminds me of Southampton going down to League One three years ago.
“They’ll still want to finish the season with a win. But for sheer consistency and entertainment value, Saints deserve to go up automatically.
“They’ve been one of the most entertaining sides in the division all season and I can’t remember them being out of the top two.”
Having scored in his first appearance against Saints – a 4-2 defeat for Coventry at the Ricoh Arena in November (he remains the Sky Blues’ top scorer this season with nine goals) – Jutkiewicz was delighted to keep alive his own hopes of promotion with Middlesbrough last week.
“Quite a few of my friends and family came up and stayed at mine last week – all of them Southampton fans but wanting me to do well,” continued the 23-year-old, whose mum lives in Eastleigh and who has four older sisters, one of whom is a PE teacher at Bitterne Park.
“Although I support Southampton, as a professional I had to do a job. And there weren’t any mixed emotions because I’m confident they’ll still go up.”
A former Mountbatten schoolboy, Jutkiewicz lived on Highfield Road during his Saints Academy days, when he was pals with Adam Lallana.
While referee Tony Bates’s failure to send off Seb Hines for his foul on Lallana was last Saturday’s main controversy, Jutkiewicz was involved in other key moments.
“A few people weren’t sure whether it was a free kick [from which Zemmama struck the winner] but I thought it was a blatant tug on my shirt and am not one to throw myself down,” he said.
“I also thought I was unlucky to have a goal disallowed on the stroke of half time, it looked like I was onside.”
Jutkiewicz hoped Saints’ promotion would be confirmed two days later – only for West Ham to come from behind to win 2-1 at Leicester.
“I was hoping Leicester would do us a favour,” smiled the former Swindon and Everton striker. “I was at a Drake concert in Newcastle with my girlfriend – one of the boys had a spare pair of tickets – while my Southampton friends kept me updated on the score at Upton Park.”
A former Tyro League player with Winsor and Brendon, Jutkiewicz has been a Saints fan since seeing his first game on the opening day of the 1996-97 season from The Dell’s Milton Road End.
He decided to leave the Saints academy, aged 14, after falling out of love with football following a spate of shin splints.
But his hopes of a return to the south coast were raised by Saints boss Nigel Adkins earlier this season.
“There was an enquiry about a loan with a view to a permanent move in the January transfer window but unfortunately nothing was able to be put together,” he said. “It would have been a dream come true, but Middlesbrough was a good career move and thanks to our win on Saturday our season is still alive,” he said.
Now Jutkiewicz wants to help Middlesbrough get the win at Watford that will fire them into the play-offs – if Cardiff City lose at Crystal Palace.
But when that is over, the Saints- Coventry scoreline is the first he will check in the away changing room at Vicarage Road. And if Saints fail to win his eyes will soon turn to the West Ham-Hull City result.
“Anything is possible – I didn’t think West Ham would beat Brighton 6-0,”
he said. “But I like to think Southampton will be in the right frame of mind to do what they need to do in front of their own fans.”