Southampton’s 3-0 defeat against Leeds United on Tuesday night was made even worse by the images of Oriol Romeu limping off the Elland Road pitch in the second half.
The Spanish midfielder was one of few Southampton players to escape the game with any credit, after his goal-saving tackle in the first half which denied Raphinha the opening goal.
It comes as a huge blow to Ralph Hasenhuttl therefore that the former Chelsea man looks set for an extended spell on the sidelines, with the Austrian manager confirming after the game that the injury is ‘not looking good‘.
With Southampton also without Ibrahima Diallo through injury, it leaves Hasenhuttl with very few options in the centre of midfield.
James Ward-Prowse has been an ever-present in midfield this season, usually alongside Romeu or Diallo, but it now seems as if he will have to be partnered with someone new for the next few weeks at least, whilst the defensive-midfield duo recover from their respective injuries.
Whilst Stuart Armstrong could be utilised there, he has been one of the Saints most impressive performers this season on the wing, so it would be a shame to see his attacking output be limited by a change in position.
This could force Hasenhuttl into the difficult decision of recalling young Alexandre Jankewitz into his starting XI, with the Swiss midfielder having endured a nightmare full debut earlier this season when he was sent off just two minutes into the 9-0 defeat against Manchester United.
Other than a brief substitute appearance, that remains the 19-year-old’s only experience in the Premier League, so to suddenly rely on him to be a starter in the absence of other options will be a lot of pressure for Jankewitz to deal with, but it may be a decision that Hasenhuttl is forced into.
The Austrian showed he perhaps doesn’t trust the teenager having opted to bring Moussa Djenepo on instead of his fellow central midfield substitute when Romeu came off at Elland Road, which was hardly a glowing endorsement of his feelings towards the youngster who let him down at Old Trafford.
However, with the academy talent having reportedly handed in a transfer request in January due to a lack of first-team opportunities, this may be the best chance he has to showcase his talent at Southampton, even if it may be an unwanted call for Hasenhuttl.
And, in other news… Saints ace let Hasenhuttl down vs Southampton, he was outshone by Tella