Ralph Hasenhuttl’s injury problems at Southampton look to have grown after youngster Will Smallbone was forced off against Leicester City on Saturday night.
The 21-year-old was making just his third appearance of the season, and his first since September, in the 2-0 defeat against the Foxes, but he was forced off through knee injury in the second half.
The youngster tried to play on following a collision with Timothy Castagne but it was clear that he could not continue when he went down again just a few minutes later.
Hasenhuttl spoke to the BBC following the game about Smallbone’s injury, saying:
“We have again injured players. Will is not looking good, his knee – and now are coming a lot of games. I hope that players are coming back as soon as possible.”
The Austrian manager’s squad is looking extremely thin at the moment, following injuries to Moussa Djenepo, Nathan Redmond, Oriol Romeu and Jannik Vestergaard.
Youngsters Nathan Tella and Michael Obafemi are also injured, whilst Danny Ings was self-isolating for the game at Leicester, meaning Smallbone was selected out of position on the left-wing.
His injury represents a real issue for Hasenhuttl now, as he is seriously lacking midfield options and he may well be forced to play a similar side on Tuesday night against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, due to the lack of depth currently available to him.
The Austrian suggested before the transfer window that signings were unlikely in January but following this latest injury setback, it seems clear that chief executive Martin Semmens must act to bring in some more midfield options during the current transfer window, otherwise he risks leaving Hasenhuttl with a threadbare squad.
You would also imagine that, given Southampton’s hectic schedule, Smallbone’s injury will not be the last, and if replacements are not brought in, then the Saints’ impressive start to the season could well be undone.