Southampton striker Charlie Austin is back in training following three months on the sidelines because of a hamstring injury, and Saints fans are desperately hoping he will be fit for their crucial clash against fellow relegation contenders West Ham United on March 31.
The centre-forward, who is rated at £10.8m by Transfermarkt, is still the south coast outfit’s top scorer in all competitions this season with six goals despite his absence, and has often looked to be their biggest goal threat when he has been on the pitch.
While Manolo Gabbiadini had two great chances to score against Wigan Athletic on Sunday, club-record signing Guido Carrillo was largely anonymous and is without a goal in his first nine appearances for Saints, leaving the St Mary’s faithful unimpressed.
Southampton supporters have been quick to have their say on the potential return of Austin via social media, and while one said “hopefully Austin is fit for West Ham”, another said “Austin is apparently looking to be back for some minutes in the West Ham which will be crucial”.
Here is just a selection of the Twitter reaction…
Hard for Hughes to have a massive impact tactically after only a few days, however there were some noticeable improvements 2nd half. Now he has a solid 2 weeks to get his ideas across and get Austin back into the mix. #saintsfc
— Home & Away Saint (@Saintmike_sfc) March 19, 2018
Plenty of positives not least the team looking much more motivated, first half was poor but it was worth noting the conditions, very windy, cold and pitch cutting up made it difficult. Saw enough that we can beat West Ham especially with Austin back giving us a lift #saintsfc
— 1885theartof (@1885theartof) March 18, 2018
I really hope Austin is back and stays injury free to play alongside Gabbi, because Carrillo looks awful so far. #saintsfc
— Gareth Davies (@gazd83) March 18, 2018
Austin in for Carrillo & Ward Prowse in for Tadic & we’ll stay up #saintsfc
— Matt (@MattElgar14) March 18, 2018
Can not wait for Austin to come back.
— Raphaël (@RaphaelSBriand) March 18, 2018
Hopefully Austin is fit for West Ham. Would also think about playing 4-3-3 to allow JWP to get into the team and have Simms and Redmond either side of Austin.
— Will Thomas (@Willtsfc) March 19, 2018
@FootballFanCast I’ve been most unimpressed by Carrillo and that didn’t change today vs Wigan. He makes no impact whatsoever. Saints need a powerful striker still. Charlie Austin could fill that role for a while. Starting vs West Ham.
— Kevin Goddard (@K3vinGoddard) March 18, 2018
Austin is apparently looking to be back for some minutes in the West Ham game which will be crucial
— Noah (@LeminaSZN) March 18, 2018