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Stuart Dalgleish 7th Aug 2009 - 21:11

Saints can march past depleted Lions

Millwall look to be in for a tough opener to their League 1 campaign at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium.

While The Lions performed well last season and are quoted at a fairly short price of 4/1 to get promoted this season, Kenny Jackett's team have injury concerns at the back - Danny Senda and Paul Robinson will definitely miss out and Tony Craig, last season's player of the year Andy Frampton and Zak Whitbread are all doubtful.

Without that quality to pick from Jackett faces a tough choice as to who to pair up in central defence; Robinson and Whitbread performed so well together last year and were one of the main reasons why The Lions went on to reach the play-off final.

One problem that Millwall had last season was scoring goals, while the defence was fairly solid the strikers were below par and only Gary Alexander (33/1 to be top League 1 scorer, 7/1 to score first in this match) managed double figures in the league - the arrival from Stevenage of Steve Morison (a tempting 33/1 to be League 1 top scorer, 8/1 to pounce first in this game) should start to see more goals fly in at The New Den.

Southampton, like Millwall, also found it difficult to score regularly as they were relegated from the Championship, but with Grzegorz Rasiak (10/1 to finish League 1 top scorer, 11/2 to score first in this match) and Marek Saganowski (12/1 top scorer, 11/2 for the first goal of the afternoon) upfront - for now - they should be able to find their way to the back of the net a little easier than they did last season.

Alan Pardew's side, although letting in an incredible 69 goals last season, should be a lot tighter at the back this time around.

With the signings of Dan Harding - who is more than useful from set-pieces - and the experienced Graeme Murty, The Saints look to have a more balanced defence; add to this the great news that Kelvin Davis (who saved so many points last season) is still to be between the sticks, then they could have a realistic push for the play-offs even with their minus ten points deficit.

If they can keep hold of their front two as well then they are sure to be up there, Leeds almost did it when they had their points handicap so why not Southampton?

The home team (13/2 to get promoted) go into the game as even money favourites, winning their last four against Millwall in all competitions. The draw is an 11/5 shot, whilst The Lions - who have lost their last three games on the road are also 11/5 to pick up three points in this fixture.

Southampton v Millwall - Saturday 12:45

League 1 - opening day fixtures

League 1 - outright

League 1 - promotion

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