Saints can turn up the heat on their promotion rivals by storming back to the top of the Championship table this weekend.

Nigel Adkins’ men are in buoyant mood after coming through a tough run of fixtures unscathed and now have the chance to leapfrog West Ham to return to the Championship summit.

Saints host Derby at St Mary’s tomorrow and, though the Rams still have an eye on a play-off spot, they are mired in mid-table and could provide ideal opponents.

With West Ham, Blackpool, Birmingham, Hull and Middlesbrough all either in FA Cup action or kicking their heels this weekend, it is the perfect chance for Saints to crank up the pressure by sticking another three points on the board.

Though the teams around them will have games in hand, with several playing in midweek while Saints have free time before travelling to Watford a week on Saturday, every manager would prefer points on the board.

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