STAUNCH Evertonian Michael Symes will have a Liverpool fanatic rooting for him as he bids for a change in derby fortunes.

Raised as a Toffee in the blue half of the city, Symes was brought up alongside an ardent red – his older brother, Joe.

“I don’t know what happened to him!” laughed Symes. “He’s the only one in the whole family! It makes for great banter on matchdays, although it hasn’t been so good in the past few years because they have always come out on top.”

Symes spent 10 years on the books at Goodison and partnered Wayne Rooney in Everton’s 2002 FA Youth Cup defeat by Aston Villa.

His derby playing experiences have been limited to a low-key Welsh border affair between Shrewsbury and Hereford and a couple of pre-season friendlies for Accrington against Burnley and Blackburn.

But having played in front of more than 61,000 in the 2007 League Two play-off final at Wembley, Symes will be well prepared when Cherries face Southampton in the first league meeting between the two clubs for more than 50 years.

He said: “Everyone knows Liverpool and Everton hate each other and I’ve experienced that hatred when I’ve been to Merseyside derbies so I’m expecting the same here.

“We’re on a good run and theirs has been a bit iffy so we’re going there full of confidence and believing we can get a positive result. Everybody is really looking forward to it.

“Some of the grounds in League Two aren’t the best but St Mary’s is a Premier League stadium and one of the best pitches I have played on.

“They will be the favourites but we are second in the table and in a rich vein of form. We’re going there on the back of two good home wins and will be under no pressure.

“They will be looking for a good result because it could be the turning point of their season. Their players will also be out to impress a new manager.”

Symes has returned with a bang since missing most of September with a shoulder injury. The 26-year-old notched a penalty in Cherries’ 2-0 win over Carlisle before repeating the feat against Exeter in midweek when he also netted a sublime opener.

“The lads have made it easy to come back in,” said Symes. “Apart from Oldham, they have been on a good run and are flying. There has been a buzz around the changing room and the training ground.”

• See today's Echo for our interviews with former Saints and Cherries stars Dickie Dowsett and Ted MacDougall.