Southampton can clinch back-to-back promotions and return to the Premier League if they win away to Middlesbrough on Saturday evening.
Victory would achieve the coveted feat in perfect fashion but, with a five-point cushion over third-placed West Ham - who play on Monday - and only two games remaining, even a draw may ultimately be good enough for Nigel Adkins’ side.
The Championship title, which for so long looked to be heading to the south coast, may have slipped further out of reach by kick-off time if Reading have beaten Crystal Palace.
But automatic promotion would be a most acceptable second prize for Saints, who were not among the market leaders when the season began.
They, along with West Ham, have been swallowed up by Reading’s charge from the pack in recent months, but have coped with the pressure surprisingly better than Sam Allardyce’s men.
For much of the campaign Southampton’s home form has carried them through, but recently their results on the road have been superior and it’s now six wins out of seven on their travels.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have dropped off the pace in the quest for a play-off place and conceivably it could be all over for them by the time this game kicks off.
Tony Mowbray’s side have won only one of their last 10 games and scoring goals has been a major problem, exemplified by Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at home to already relegated Doncaster.
Even Scott McDonald’s return from injury has not yet turned things around in that respect, the Australian having failed to find the net in five games since his comeback.
Therefore with Southampton having the ultimate incentive at this level to win the game, they look decent value at 7/5 with Paddy Power
to seal promotion in style.