Southampton the team to catch - Nigel Adkins

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins says his side are the team to catch after stretching their lead at the top of the Championship to five points.

The Saints beat West Ham 1-0 on Wednesday to continue their 100% record at St Mary's.

"We are there to be shot at," he told BBC South Today.

"We are five points clear and we sit there on merit, what we've got to do is make sure we stay in the race come the January period, that's the main thing."

The former Scunthorpe boss believes his side are reaping the rewards of a tough pre-season and has praised the togetherness in his squad.

"We had a superb pre-season with the players working very hard. They are a fit, honest, hard working bunch of professionals and there is a great team spirit," said Adkins.

The Saints manager acknowledges there is still a long way to go this season but feels his side are already the team to catch as they prepare to visit Reading on Saturday.

"I think it (the five point lead) is a marker, we've reached 12 games of the season and people normally look at things after 10 matches - and we are top," he continued.

"People are always going to try and chase the leaders and we have to take it one game at a time, work very hard and impose ourselves on the game and deal with the challenges that present themselves.

"We've got good players here and if we can keep a consistency about ourselves then who knows what will happen."

And he says his side can handle the pressure of chasing Premier League promotion, having experienced a similar situation last season in League One.

"We've got that mentality from last season," he said.

"Southampton were always everyone's cup final and it is the same for us this season. There are a lot of big teams in this division, there is a long way to go and we are well aware of that."

Adkins' side travel to Reading on Saturday as they look to consolidate their lead at the top of the table.

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