BRENTFORD manager Martin Allen loathes the Mad Dog' tag he was given as a player, but he still loves to undertake crazy' challenges.

After swimming across a river in Hartlepool, he is planning to take a dip in the Solent today to inspire his team for tomorrow's FA Cup fifth round tie at Southampton.

It is rather appropriate because it will be a case of sink or swim' as Allen and his bunch of rejects and youngsters take on the Premiership big boys.

Striker Isaiah Rankin issued a challenge to his boss after returning from suspension to score the vital goal in a 1-0 replay victory at Hartlepool last Saturday.

Allen had thrown down the gauntlet to Rankin and Co. to match his commitment by swimming across the freezing river outside their Darlington hotel last Friday, just as he had done before Bees' league game at Hartlepool earlier in the season.

Rankin revealed: "We had said to the gafferDon't talk about swimming across the river, just do it' - and he did. It was so typical of the boss - he's mad. Now it's only fitting that he swims the Solent before we face Southampton."

Allen has accepted the challenge. He told me: "I will have a swim in the Solent after training on Friday.

"I won't be trying to swim across it because the river is too wide, but I'll take a little dip. Hopefully it will help to put the lads in the right mood for their tough task against Southampton.

"I'm looking forward to taking on my former managers Harry Redknapp and Jim Smith, who are in charge at Southampton.

"They are good friends of me and my dad, but that will have to go out of the window on Saturday. We won't be changing our tactics - we will play our way and leave Southampton to worry about us."

Of the interest being shown in him by other clubs, Allen commented: "If we keep winning all the other stuff further down the line will take care of itself.

"This is the only job that is important to me, but if one day something happens so be it.

"I can hardly believe Brentford are in the fifth round of the FA Cup. I was taking Barnet to Bracknell this time last year now I'm taking Brentford to Southampton."

Brentford will again be without injury victims Jamie Lawrence (knee), Andy Myers (foor) and Kevin O'Connor (foot) together with cup-tied keeper Ademole Bankole.

Chris Hargreaves is having a fitness test after aggrevating his calf strain in Saturday's win at Hartlepool, while Jay Tabb and Andrew Frampton hope to declare themselves fit after picking up knocks.

Brentford's squad is likely to be: Nelson; Dobson, Turner, Sodje, Salako, Hutchinson, Talbot, Hargreaves, Rankin, Hunt, Tabb, Burton, May, Lennie, Frampton, Fitzgerald, Harrold, Lee.

Former Brentford star Paul Smith will be in goal for Southampton after taking over from injured first choice keeper Anti Niemi.

Smith, who left Griffin Park for £250,000 last season, says: "Brentford mean a lot tomean and theirs is always the first result I want to know. But I will be doing my best to make sure Southampton beat them."