ALAN Pardew has told David Connolly he may have to remain content with a place on the bench if Saints keep up their winning run.

The St Mary’s boss faces a selection dilemma ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Oldham – stick with a winning team in a 4-5-1 formation or move back to 4-4-2 to include Connolly who has impressed Pardew since joining the club.

In the long run, the 4-4-2 with Connolly partnering Rickie Lambert in attack looks like it will be the way ahead.

But with the current side on a roll of three wins on the trot in all competitions, it is very hard to change.

Pardew said: “The boys who are playing have d o n e a brilliant job.

“The system we’re playing at the moment is suiting the individuals we have and if we keep winning then Connolly will have to sit on the bench anyway.

“David Connolly’s got to earn the right to get in the team first and foremost and the other system’s got to give him the opportunity.

“If they keep working the system like they are at the moment, then he can be a nice option on the bench.

“It’s like all things – if you come in late, you have to wait.”

Saints may be in form after a pleasing run but so are Oldham.

“They’re a team that are unbeaten in their last six, they look a strong team, organised,” said Pardew.

“It will be a tough agenda for us to win there but that’s what we’ll aim to do.

“They’re a big club and they want to get back to the good times, like we do.

“We must never lose focus that there’s a lot of teams in this division – Leeds, Norwich, Charlton – who are very much in the same position as us.

“We are not with one good week going to suddenly turn our season round.

“We need one strong month and then take that into the next month.

“We’ve trained very, very well this week.

“You can see the whole squad is a little bit more looking forward to the next game.

“Sometimes when you haven’t won a game, or there was a game you should have won, you worry but now the games can’t come soon enough and that’s a team in form.

“Unfortunately for us we’ve come straight from finding a bit of form ourselves into a team who are bang in form, rather than playing someone out of form which would have made the task a little bit easier for us.

“This game’s going to be really tricky between two teams in form meeting head-to-head – something’s got to give.”

He added: “It will be interesting to see what the set-up of the game is like because they set up against Charlton (0-0 at The Valley last Saturday) to restrict them and stop them playing.

“But I’m not sure they’ll do that against us, especially being at home.

“Are they going to match us up man for man or go 4-4-2?

“That will tell it’s own story and I’m not saying what would benefit Oldham the most because I don’t know what would.

“But certainly we won’t change what we do and will hopefully impose ourselves on them.”