Journalist Dan Sheldon has explained how Ralph Hasenhuttl may have a selection ‘headache’ as Will Smallbone looks set to come back from a long-term injury.
Earlier in September, the Saints midfielder shared an image of himself back on the training pitch, showing that his return to full fitness may come sooner rather than later.
While speaking about the player on the Total Saints podcast, Sheldon claimed that the club really ‘rate’ Smallbone and his return should give Hasenhuttl a ‘good headache’.
He said: “They really do rate his technical ability on the ball, and to have the injury he did against Leicester was a real killer blow for him, especially being so young, and having a little bit of a go in the team off the bench and so on.
“But, you know, the recovery’s taken its time, that’s fine. There’s no point rushing something like that. And the fact he’s edging closer to return gives Ralph another option.
“And this is a player that was on the periphery of the first team last year and is going to want to be back in there again – which is another good headache for Ralph, for him to manage that situation.”
TIF Thoughts on Will Smallbone and Southampton…
Smallbone broke into the Saints team in 2019/20, making nine Premier League appearances for the club. He then featured three times in the league the following season before suffering his unfortunate injury.
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As a result, he has not played in any of the club’s first five league games, which has seen Hasenhuttl’s men pick up four points from a possible 15.
With the club yet to register a win this season, there could yet be a place in the middle of the park up for grabs if the Austrian boss feels changes are required. However, following an impressive point away at Manchester City, the club may not be so desperate to rush the midfielder’s return – especially when he has missed so much football.
However, it is positive that it appears the club still have faith in his potential to come good in a Saints shirt.