CRAIG Cathcart is struggling to recover from illness in time for Brighton – but even if fit, the defender faces a nervous wait to see if he is selected.
Boss Ian Holloway could stick with Matt Hill, who he praised after the Derby game, or revert to Cathcart, who missed training yesterday and will be assessed again today.
Holloway also has the option of moving Alex Baptiste to centre-half and giving Chris Basham – impressive during pre-season and at Sheffield Wednesday in the Carling Cup – a chance at right-back.
Ian Evatt seems a certain started and is more concerned about the threat Brighton pose than any selection dilemmas.
“Brighton are flying, just like Southampton are,” the centre-back said. “When teams come up they have this winning mentality.
“They have come up on a good run, so in many ways they have learned how to win.
“With us it is slightly different.
“We weren’t getting beaten on a regular basis last season but we lost more than our fair share of games, so it is tough.
“We started well and unfortunately the Derby game was a kick in the teeth.
“But hopefully the boys will get over it quickly and return bigger and stronger.”
As for who he may partner tomorrow, Evatt said: “Matt (Hill) did well the other night. It was strange playing on the right side of the back two but I enjoyed it.
“Fingers crossed, though, we will have everyone fully fit for Saturday and then it is down to the manager to make a decision.”
Holloway has spoken highly of Hill, who joined from Barnsley over the summer.
However, the new recruit did concede the free-kick from which Derby scored their winner in midweek.
The manager said: “He didn’t need to rush in and try to win the ball. You are in a good position – hold them up and the team shape will win that back.
“I thought Matt (Hill) was absolutely terrific. He is a fantastic player. He reads it, gets there and is strong, and I think he is a great addition.”
Asked who would have faced Derby had Cathcart not been ill, the manager seemed to suggest the Irishman would have got the nod.
“Well, it wasn’t broke so I wouldn’t have had to fix it,” he said. But Hill has been knocking on the door and it was the easiest decision ever really. Ian Evatt and Craig know they have a very formidable player (wanting to take their place).”