Graziano Pelle must take advantage of the absence of Charlie Austin and Shane Long when Sunderland travel to St Mary’s stadium on Saturday.
Injuries weaken Saints attack
Long and Austin picked up knee and hamstring injuries respectively, on Tuesday night during the Saints 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth. With the duo out of this weekends clash against relegation-threatened Sunderland, Pelle must grasp this opportunity. The impact the Italian has had since signing from Feyenoord in 2014, should be no means by underestimated as he played a key role in Saints highest ever points tally last season.
Last season also saw the centre forward earn his first Italy national team cap but this season he has struggled for form and a place in the team. With two strikers out this weekend, Pelle is almost guaranteed to be leading the line of attack for Ronald Koeman’s side and he must prove that he is required in the team.
Long keeping Pelle on the bench
Shane Long’s form as kept the Italian on the bench this season but if Pelle can score tomorrow, it would prove a relief to fans, management and the striker himself.The south coast club have put in more crosses this season than anyone else in the Premier League and if given the chance, Pelle must take it to prove to his doubters that his future lies at St Marys.
With Dusan Tadic also expected to start this weekend, most Saints fans will be hoping that combination that provided so much last season, can help them to the three points tomorrow.
Pelle’s Saints career is at risk of petering out as injuries and lack of form have been met by transfer rumours but a good performance this weekend to reignite the Saints’ Europa League bid, could put him back in favour.Potential destination rumours for the number 9 began in January as he was linked with Italian giants Juventus and Lazio.