Ralph Hasenhuttl has been handed a surprising, yet very welcome, boost at Southampton this week, after it was revealed that Oriol Romeu has returned to training after injury.
The Spaniard was expected to be out for the season after breaking his ankle in a 3-0 defeat against Leeds United back in February but Hampshire Live has confirmed that he is back on the pitch at Staplewood and could even return for some of Southampton’s remaining fixtures.
The Saints have five games remaining of the Premier League season and whilst they are not yet mathematically safe, Fulham would need to pick up at least 10 points and hope that Southampton pick up none, if they are to catch up to Hasenhuttl’s side.
To have Romeu back before the end of the season would be a huge boost for the Austrian manager, as he and James Ward-Prowse formed a superb partnership in midfield earlier in the campaign, which was a significant factor in their impressive start to the season.
The 29-year-old, who joined for £5m from Chelsea in 2015, has averaged an impressive 6.97 rating across his 20 appearances in the top-flight this season, which ranks him as the third-best performer in Southampton’s squad so far this campaign.
Southampton have seriously struggled in his absence, with Ibrahima Diallo flattering to deceive as his replacement, which has forced Hasenhuttl to play Armstrong in central midfield on occasion, which doesn’t suit the Scottish international.
Therefore, if they can welcome back Romeu then the South Coast side can revert back to using the midfield which helped them briefly go top of the Premier League back in November and hopefully, they can finish the season strongly after a shocking run of form in 2021.
Romeu’s influence cannot be underestimated as, ahead of their meeting in December, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was full of praise for the defensive midfielder, saying:
“He (Hasenhuttl) has experience at the back and has one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, Romeu.”
Romeu’s return ahead of schedule is certainly some good news for Southampton and hopefully, they can get him fit enough to feature in some of the remaining Premier League fixtures, as it would be a huge boost to have him back on the pitch.