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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Andy Lewis @efc_andylewis

David Moyes reserved praise for two local men as the Blues prepare to renew a rivalry with south coast Southampton.

Saints were familiar top-flight foes before their relegation in 2005 with Saturday’s Premier League fixture the first meeting between the sides in seven years.

But while many in the visiting party will be experiencing the footballing hotbed of Merseyside for the first time – two of their number know it all too well.

Birkenhead-born boss Nigel Adkins has steered the club to consecutive promotions with the help of Fazakerley native Rickie Lambert’s goals.

Moyes said: “Southampton are a club who are doing very well. They have come up through a couple of divisions and are rightfully back in the Premier League.

“I am really happy with how we are playing but they will give us a hard game.

“They had a good win against Aston Villa last week and will probably feel more confident about where they are and I am sure they will come here and give us a decent game.

“Nigel Adkins deserves a lot of credit for his work. He has done great over the past few years and to get them up twice is a remarkable achievement.”

Striker Lambert established a reputation as one of the best goalscorers in the lower leagues, first with Rochdale and then Bristol Rovers.

His return at Southampton has been nothing short of phenomenal and while some doubted he could step up again, he has four in five Premier League matches.

Moyes said: “Rickie came to my attention when he was at Bristol Rovers. The time we were looking around the leagues and we took Jermaine Beckford, it was around when Rickie was about to go to Southampton.

“So we were aware of him and his goalscoring record and he has done great. To come through the leagues shows a great deal of hunger and determination to  improve and he has done that.”

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