Billy Sharp must fight for Southampton start - Adkins

Billy Sharp

Big-money signing Billy Sharp's lack of starts since joining Southampton is simply down to competition for places, according to manager Nigel Adkins.

With injury questions over Tadanari Lee, Guly Do Prado and David Connolly, the striker could feature against former club Doncaster on Saturday.

"Billy was the top man at Doncaster but he's joined us - there are good players here," Adkins told BBC Radio Solent.

"He needs an opportunity to play but that's the competition we've got."

Sharp has made just three starts since re-joining Adkins, under whom he also played for Scunthorpe United, at the end of January. His only goal to date was scored on his Saints debut against Burnley.

"I've been bought for a lot of money and I want to repay that, to say I've helped the club get promoted," Sharp added to BBC Radio Solent earlier this week.

"The games I've started I've thought I've done OK, but I've been patient, I'll wait for my chance and hopefully I'll take it."

Adkins insisted the the 26-year-old, for whom Southampton paid an undisclosed fee believed to be in the order of £2m, had settled well since his move south.

"Billy for me is an outstanding goal-scorer and football player, and I know what he can do on the pitch.

"If Tadanari Lee hadn't been playing so well maybe Billy would have been starting more games, but we have competition for places and that's what we need so that everyone is working very hard," said Adkins.

"He's come in, his conditioning is getting a lot better, but the burden is not just on his shoulders, he's part of a talented group."