Championship sides eye EPL

Automatic promotion to the lucrative English Premier League is on offer when Southampton and West Ham battle it out on Saturday.

Second-tier title winner Reading has already ensured its return to the top flight by clinching one of the two automatic promotion spots on offer and cannot be caught at the top of the table.

West Ham is two points behind Southampton heading into the weekend.

The London club needs to beat Hull City and hopes Southampton loses to relegated Coventry.

If Southampton draws, West Ham would need to win by three or four goals - depending on how many Southampton scores - to clinch promotion.

Teams that finish third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the regular Championship season will then enter the playoffs, which culminates in a Wembley final for the prize of the third and last promotion place to the Premier League.

West Ham is looking to bounce straight back following its relegation at the end of the 2010/11 season while it is seven years since south coast side Southampton last played in England's top flight.

Southampton slipped up in losing 2-1 at Middlesbrough last week but manager Nigel Adkins was confident of success at St Mary's.

"We will have to make sure we do it at home now," Adkins said.

"We know what we have to do when we play Coventry at our place in front of 32,000 people."

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, who has been criticised by some sections of the Upton Park faithful for a direct style of play supposedly not in keeping with the club's reputation for passing football, insisted the season would be a success even if it missed out on second place.

"Considering the turnover of players and the state of the club when I walked in, this is a happy club now with a soul," Allardyce told BBC Radio London.

"We know we were good enough to clinch first or second but where we've come from we've had a magnificent season," added Allardyce, who has Premier League experience from his time in charge of Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn.

Looking forward to Saturday's matches, Allardyce said: "We don't want to come off the field and not having taken advantage of a slip-up by Southampton.

"Let's do the job. If it's not to be, it's not to be."

Source AFP