Mark Hughes has confirmed that Southampton will be without Danny Ings as the Saints host Manchester United on Saturday.
Ings last featured for Southampton at home to Watford on November 10, but was forced off after 40 minutes when he felt an issue with his hamstring.
The following international break presented a brief rest-bite for the striker, though he continued to be sidelined for the Premier League trip to Fulham and Carabao Cup clash with Leicester City.
Hughes has now confirmed that the on-loan Liverpool forward is yet to return to training since his substitution against the Hornets, adding the club are taking a cautious view on his injury.
“We’re still missing Danny unfortunately, who hasn’t been on the grass yet. We’d hoped to get him back at some point this week, but it hasn’t been possible.
“He had a slight setback, nothing too great, and he wasn’t quite ready, so we’ve given him a little bit more time. We’re hopeful that for the games next week he will have been out on the grass, and he’ll become an option again.
“We’ve been a little bit careful with him if we’re honest and hopefully that extra time will allow him to come back fit and sound for the games right through to the new year.”
The obvious stand-in for Ings would be Charlie Austin, given the 29-year-old came on against the Hornets in his place and started at Fulham.
However, the former Queens Park Rangers striker continues to be goalless in the Premier League this season, despite now featuring 10 times – playing 526 minutes and taking just 14 shots.
Instead, Hughes should turn to the teenage prospect Michael Obafemi who, while not scoring, impressed again against Leicester in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old’s spurned chance to open the scoring in the second half, as his side were eliminated on penalties, should not be held against him for Obafemi is still finding his feet, whereas Austin is the proven product that is not scoring.