Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl spoke to the media today (Thursday) ahead of his side’s trip to Liverpool on Saturday evening.
The Saints beat Liverpool 1-0 back in January with Danny Ings' early strike the difference at St. Mary's, but since then Southampton have struggled for form, and are yet to secure Premier League football next season.
After showing good character to earn a point against Leicester City last time out, Hasenhuttl will be hoping for more of the same from this workmanlike side.
Hasenhuttl confirmed Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand will be Saints’ most notable absentees on Saturday evening, alongside long-term injuries to Oriol Romeu and Michael Obafemi, but did hint a return for the latter duo could be close.
“We have Ingsy (Ings) still not available, still with some problems,” Hasenhuttl said. “Hopefully we find him back next week.
“Bertrand is still out with a calf injury. Ori (Romeu) can maybe start with the team next week, he has a last scan to go but it looks okay.
“We have a game against (Crystal) Palace on Tuesday, so maybe we have a look (on Ings). It’s good that we have as many players as possible fit.”
Defender Jannik Vestergaard will be available for the trip to Anfield after his red card against Leicester City on Friday night was rightly rescinded.
Speaking about the Dane’s dismissal against the Foxes and the club’s successful appeal against the decision, Hasenhuttl added: “It’s very disappointing because it’s the second time this season.
“In both cases it has affected our game a lot. It’s why we have the VAR. Simply not a good job done to be honest.”
Fight for #1
Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster have been told they will be sharing the remaining Premier League games out between them – but Hasenhuttl didn’t say who would start at Liverpool.
And when asked about the defence lacking in continuity, Hasenhuttl said: “The defence have played with both goalkeepers this season and they are not so much different in their way and behaviours.
“Both keepers have done well and had clean sheets, and with both goalkeepers we have not defended well so it’s not about who’s standing in goal. Both have good qualities and this is how we handle it over the last six games.”
Three points on Saturday, and other results going their way, would see Southampton secure their top flight status for another year, but Hasenhuttl admitted he hasn’t seen his side be part of the fight for survival.
“I’ve never seen us have a relegation threat this season,” he said. “It’s the opposite to last season, but we have a good opportunity to get our Premier League status. It will be good to seal it as soon as possible.”
It’s not long now until St. Mary’s Stadium can welcome supporters, albeit a limited number, this season – with the Premier League moving the penultimate round of fixtures so all clubs can accommodate supporters over their final home games.
And Hasenhuttl was delighted with the news that up to 10,000 will be in the ground when the Saints welcome Leeds United to the south coast later in the month.
“It’s great,” said the Austrian. “Absolutely amazing to see them again this season. Nobody could expect this but I think it’s fantastic for everybody to have them back.
“It gives you a little bit of a feeling what we can have next season with some sort of normality. We have a chance to climb a few positions and they will help us with the last game at home and it’s great for us.”