Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert prepare for mixed Southampton reception

Lambert and Lallana set for St. Mary's return (©GettyImages)

Southampton host Liverpool on Sunday with both sides chasing a top four finish this season, but it is not for that reason that the game holds such importance this time around.

For it will be the first time Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren will return to St. Mary's since leaving the club last summer.

Although both parties have since moved on from the events of 2014, there is sure to be some trepidation about the reception they could face.

Lambert welcomed back

Rickie Lambert will probably receive the warmest welcome on the South coast, with his goalscoring feats taking the Saints to where they are today.

The way he left the club was also the least acrimonious of the three departures, and having left to join his boyhood club he penned a heartfelt thank you to the Southampton fans he left behind.

Although not likely to make the Reds' starting line-up, Lambert may be introduced later in the game by manager Brendan Rogers depending on the way the match is going.

Lallana love lost

Former Southampton captain Adam Lallana though, may not quite get the ovation that he wants and probably deserves this Sunday.

Having led the side to an eighth places finish last season, chipping in with 10 goals and eight assists in all competitions, he might think he is set for a heroes welcome.

However despite taking out a full-page advert in a local newspaper to say goodbye to the Southampton fans, Lallana came into criticism from some who felt the advert containing a picture of himself accompanied by just 23 words was simply not enough.

Unanimous Lovren feeling

It is Croatian defender Dejan Lovren though, who is set for the worst welcome when he steps out on to the pitch at St. Mary's.

His 'my head is already at Liverpool' comments from last summer, despite his club saying he was not for sale, did not go down well and put his commitment to the club in question.

Lovren made his name as one of the top Premier League defenders last season at Southampton, but the £20 million Liverpool paid for his services seems expensive looking back.

If Lovren is to make the Liverpool squad for the Southampton game this weekend, one thing for certain is that he is in for quite a tough ride.

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