DAN PETRESCU is straining at the leash ahead of his full Saints debut at home to Leicester tonight - his first senior start for more than a month.

The Romanian international has not played a full game since Bradford's clash at Chelsea on December 23 and has been kicking his heels in frustration for much of the time since his switch to The Dell.

Although he made a brief but exciting appearance as substitute against Charlton, he was ruled out of the trip to Spurs with 'flu, and was cup-tied against Sheffield Wednesday.

But tonight he is likely to slot in at right wing-back and he cannot wait to get going for real.

Petrescu said: "It has been very frustrating. I played against Chelsea and then I was ill for 10 days. I then came on as a substitute for Bradford in the FA Cup against Middlesbrough, which is very annoying as I am now cup-tied.

"It meant I missed Saturday's game and will sit out the next round and any others. That is disappointing because we have a good chance of going further.

"I had a brief run as substitute for my debut before I was ill again, so now I am looking forward to starting properly.

"It has been a while since I started a game and your fitness suffers. It will probably take me two or three games before I am 100 per cent, but I hope to play as long as I can tonight.

"We will all have to work hard - there is no doubt about that. Leicester are a very hard team to beat.

"Whenever I played against them for Chelsea, we found them hard to score against. They are a top side who have done well in the cups and got into Europe, and their players all know each other so well."

Petrescu is likely to start on the right of a midfield four, with Matthew Oakley moving back into the centre.