Good news for Saints with Austin and Targett recovery progressing

Southampton received welcome news from the treatment room today, as both Charlie Austin and Matt Targett returned to training.

The pair have missed the majority of the campaign with their respective injuries but, while a first-team return is still a little way away for both, are at last nearing full fitness again. 

Difficult times

Both Targett and Austin's injuries could not have come at worse times, since both where progressing quite nicely on the South Coast.

Targett enjoyed a breakthrough season last time out, but a hamstring injury in October has kept the England under-21 international side-lined since. With the left-back looking to kick on after a promising start to first-team football, this was a bitter pill to follow. 

Austin meanwhile, after spending much of the previous campaign nursing a variety of problems following his move to the Saints in January, was enjoying an uncharacteristically injury-free period, in which the striker was Southampton's top scorer, netting nine times in 19 games. 

Austin is helped off after his shoulder injury in December. Photo: Getty.

However, a shoulder injury in December could not have come at a worse time, and the 27-year-old faced the familiar experience of sitting out a significant number of games. 

Back at last

Months later, the duo is close to completing their recovery, with both taking full part in first-team training today. 

Saints manager Claude Puel was delighted to welcome them back to the squad, but was under no illusions that "they will take some time" to be match ready, due to the need to find a "good rhythm and intensity".

With Southampton having little to play for in the remainder of the season, there is no need for Puel to rush them back and cause another injury when there is not much on the line.

Austin return date

Despite Puel's obvious precaution, it is likely that Austin at least will play some competitive football before the end of the season. The Frenchman hopes that "Austin can play next Friday with the under-23s", as a Southampton side end their season with a trip to Manchester City.

Austin could play for Southampton under-23s against Manchester City next Friday. Photo: Getty.

Following this, an appearance or two for Austin with the first-team would be far from out of the question. Considering the Saints' struggles in front of goal this season, Puel will surely be desperate to get him back in the side, as long as he is totally ready physically.