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Southampton: Hasenhuttl handed huge boost with return of Salisu

Southampton host Newcastle this evening, in a must win game for the visitors who are looking to avoid relegation but still have to face five out of the ‘big six’ after this fixture.

On the other hand, the Saints will be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s 4-0 humiliation away to Aston Villa.

While it isn’t an excuse for the terrible performance, the South-coast club have been without key defender Mohammed Salisu since the end of February, but manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that the Ghanaian could return to the team tonight.

“Sali [Salisu], we will have a look if he manages to play tomorrow,” the Austrian manager said yesterday. “We will have a look how he is.”

Should Salisu start tonight for Saints?

Yes, he is an important player!

Yes, he is an important player!

No, too early to risk him!

No, too early to risk him!

Not only does the centre-back bring stability to the backline, he is the type of player that instals a certain level of confidence and composure among his teammates.

The 22-year-old ranks in the top 1% among central defenders in Europe’s top five leagues and continental competitions for tackles per 90 (3.02), top 9% for ball recoveries per 90 (11.11), and top 10% for aerials won per 90 (3.84).

Salisu has also demonstrated how press-resistant he is time and time again too, evident by the fact that he ranks in the top 6% for passes completed under pressure per 90 (8.00).

Ranking at number four among Southampton players for highest average match rating with 7.00, he has demonstrated time and time again how important he has become for the team, and to have him return from injury will be a huge boost for Hasenhuttl and something that will undoubtedly excite supporters.

Meanwhile, Nathan Tella is also nearing a return to first-team action after being out for two months with a groin injury.

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Hasenhuttl said: ”Tella was back in session, but not available for the game.”

Elsewhere, just Lyanco and Alex McCarthy remain out, with both suffering from hamstring injuries and it is unclear at the moment when they will be back and available for selection.

In other news: Ward-Prowse 2.0: Ralph must seal Saints swoop for “absolutely superb” £3.6m-rated gem