STERN John will return to the Saints side tonight hoping for a repeat performance of his last match against Sheffield United.
John will lead the Saints attack after recovering from his long haul international trip to play for Trinidad & Tobago last week against the USA in a World Cup qualifier.
John’s last outing against the Blades was the memorable final day survival success at St Mary’s in May. The 31-year-old scored twice but was also red carded as Saints battled to a dramatic 3-2 win to secure their Championship survival under Nigel Pearson in front of a passionate capacity crowd.
John has not played for Saints since coming off early through injury in the 2-0 win at Doncaster on September 27.
A few days before he had scored his only goal of the 2008/09 campaign – that was in Sheffield, but against Rotherham in the 3-1 Carling Cup humiliation at the Don Valley stadium.
Manager Jan Poortvliet is set to make a few changes after the weekend 3-0 defeat to Watford.
Bringing John in is one of them.
He said: “Stern will start tonight and also Simon Gillett.
We will see with the rest of the team.
“I have to look at some fresh boys because after Saturday some boys are disappointed or down.
“Stern played at Doncaster and was just getting there and only lasted 12 minutes before his injury.
“When he came in against Rotherham he did very well.
“He deserves to get in because he is a good boy, a good professional.
He knows the way to the goal.
“We need some fresh boys to start tonight because a couple of players will be down after Saturday.
“We need now to be motivated and then you need all the players who are available.”
Another experienced head in Rudi Skacel will also be back in the reckoning and challenging for his first appearance of the season.
Skacel has only been on the bench once, for the 2-0 home win against Norwich last month.