Southampton’s B team return to league action as they host Sunderland in Premier League 2 at Staplewood on Friday afternoon.
Saints vs Sunderland
Premier League 2
Friday 9th February, 12pm GMT
Dave Horseman's table-topping side will play their first home league game in a month on Friday afternoon, after taking a break for PL Cup action last time out.
Saints advanced to the quarter-finals of the cup with a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Snows Stadium, with the victory following a 2-2 draw away to Middlesbrough in the league a week earlier.
In-form striker Dom Ballard, who earned a nomination for January's Player of the Month award, has scored five goals in his last four B team matches across all competitions.
Sunderland have had an inconsistent start to the new year, with two wins and two defeats across all competitions in January.
They suffered a 4-1 defeat against Wolves in the PL Cup, before losing a 12-goal thriller against Middlesbrough in a game that ended 7-5 to their North East rivals.
The Black Cats' youngsters have had an upturn in fortunes since then, picking up a point against fifth-placed Norwich before beating Newcastle 2-1 in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Back in November, Saints took all three points from the Academy of Light with a 3-1 victory on the road.
A brace from Jimmy-Jay Morgan and a Tyler Dibling strike all within the first half an hour gave them an unassailable lead.
With an interesting second half of the season ahead, Horseman explained how the different challenges will face his side that has seen players depart on loan while the race for PL2 success continues.
"That's the challenge for us is the mixed squad and the cohesion between players, when you've not got the same set 16 every day anymore.
"Of course we're trying to win every game and we want to get promoted and win the cup but ultimately, if we don't produce any players from it, it'll mean absolutely nothing.
"So the cohesion of the team might not look as good as it has in the first half of the year, but sometimes you have to show a different side and that's the character of the group and I think we'll be just fine.
"If we can bring through younger age groups already then we're doing our job and that can mean more than winning leagues and cups, but we will be trying to do both."