LONDON (REUTERS) - Southampton must be ready for a backlash from "wounded animals" Aston Villa when the Premier League strugglers meet at Villa Park on Saturday, manager Nigel Adkins warned.
Villa, entrenched in a miserable run of form, suffered a shock 1-3 defeat at fourth tier Bradford City in their League Cup semi-final, first-leg meeting on Tuesday.
"They'll be a wounded animal after that defeat against Bradford in a game they'd have been expected to win," Adkins told Southampton's website.
The teams are separated by one place and one point - with Villa 16th and Southampton 17th, just above the drop zone.
Both are in dire need of a victory with Saints having drawn three and lost one in their last four league games, while Villa have lost three and drawn one of their last four - and conceded 17 goals in the process.
"The players have been on a good run of form, so the confidence is there - we're going to Villa Park confident, strong, fit and with a desire to get three points," Adkins said in reference to his team's draws with Fulham, Stoke and Arsenal over the holiday period.