Southampton will go top of the table if they record victory against Newcastle on Friday night; but they'll have to go without a few crucial players due to injury, most notably Danny Ings. But manager Ralph Hasenhuttl insists it's a chance for other players to step up. Perhaps Theo Walcott could have a spell up front, starting with this being his first game back at St Mary's as a saints player.
“I know about his history, that he plays quite a lot up front also,” Hasenhuttl said of Walcott, when speaking to 'Southamptonfc.com'. “But we have quite a few strikers waiting for their chance – Longy, Michael (Obafemi), Dan N’Lundulu. We have a few guys fighting for the position beside Ché Adams.
“Training is one thing, the game is another thing. Who gets the chance on Friday to play should know this is a big chance and grab it, because we now have four to six weeks without Danny, so in the front we need somebody who gives us alternatives.
“We will have a look what we do. It’s always a little bit of planning on the tactical things we need for the weekend and who gives us the best opportunities for what we demand, and then we decide.”
Hasenhuttl wouldn't be drawn on what a win on Friday night would do to the Premier League table, and said he's not using it as motivation for his players before the game: “It’s not really surprising when I tell them this because I know that they know it,” he reasoned.
“In the moment, it’s a nice situation when you can do it, but I think it’s better to focus a little bit more on the things that can help us to get there.
“I don’t like this message: ‘what happens if we…’ let us first do it, and things we can really influence in the game to focus on a little bit more makes it much easier to win games.”
However, if saints do win on Friday - it'll be the first time since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, that they'll find themselves at the top of the tree.
It's certainly motivation for the fans.