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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 16:00 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


Saturday is going to be a big day for me.

But not for the reasons you will be thinking.

Contrary to what most people might think, I won't be sitting waiting for the phone to ring.

It's out of my hands as to whether I'm picked so it's not something I will worry about

Most people in the media already seem to have made up their mind that I will be picked in the England squad to face Australia.

But I have said all along that I'm taking nothing for granted, and I'm sticking by that.

Of course I would love to play for my country and if it happens, great.

But it's out of my hands as to whether I'm picked so it's not something I will worry about.

Saturday is a big day for me because I'm going back to Blackburn.

James Beattie challenge Millwall keeper Tony Warner
Millwall keeper Tony Warner makes like tough for me!

I supported Blackburn as a lad and I started my professional career there, so there's always going to be a bit of a sentimental attachment to Ewood Park and I'll look forward to going back there.

I'll catch up with one or two of the lads who were there at the same time as me, David Dunn and Damien Duff.

Blackburn might have held my affections when I was a kid, but there it ends.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and I'm a Southampton player now.

I certainly wouldn't have any problems about scoring the winner against my old team.

In football, you can't afford to take your eye off the ball for a split-second

We're going to Blackburn on a high note after our FA Cup win over Millwall.

I know we had to endure extra-time but when you're going well you never feel as tired as you do when things aren't going so well.

Blackburn also went through extra-time - followed by the emotionally draining experience of a penalty shoot-out - so they will be in a physically similar state to us.

Make no mistake, it is a big game for us and any ambitions we might have.

Liverpool are three points ahead of us so we can't afford to lose any ground on them.

Just as importantly, Charlton and Spurs have the same points as us and we can't afford to slip up.

Norwich's Mark Rivers and Dagenham's Mark Rooney
Norwich found life against Dagenham was not easy

We are one of only seven Premiership teams left in the FA Cup and with a home draw against Norwich in the fifth round, people are inevitably talking up our chances of going all the way.

It's not something you'll hear from us as the gaffer is pretty good at keeping our feet on the ground.

Millwall gave us two tough battles over two games and although we emerged as good winners in the replay, the one thing you can't do is take anyone lightly and we know Norwich will be a tough nut.

You learn very quickly in football that you can't afford to take your eye off the ball for a split-second and the thing we've done really well this season is retain our focus.

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Southampton's James Beattie
"I used to be a season ticket holder at Blackburn"
Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


Latest Saints news
See also:

13 Feb 03 | FA Cup
04 Feb 03 | Southampton
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