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Pep return won't distract Barcelona

Barcelona
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Saints sweat on Lallana fitness

Southampton are preparing for the busy festive period without captain Adam Lallana after it was confirmed he damaged knee ligaments during the 1-0 Premier League defeat against Reading.

• Blog: Lallana shaped gap

Lallana, 24, left the pitch during the first half of the home win and departed St Mary's on crutches post-match, handing manager Nigel Adkins a major selection headache.

After struggling to adjust to life back in the top-flight at the beginning of the season - Southampton lost eight of their first 10 games - the club have now lost just once in their past six games with academy graduate Lallana a key figure in their resurgence, starting every league game.

But he could be missing for the games against Sunderland, Fulham, Stoke and Arsenal in the league and Chelsea in the FA Cup. An exact length of absence is yet to be confirmed by the club and is understood to depend on his reaction to treatment.

Southampton are currently 16th in the table and only out of the bottom three on goal difference. Their trip to Chelsea, due to be played on Saturday, has been postponed due to the Blues' involvement in the Club World Cup.

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