Ralph Hasenhuttl has provided a fresh update on Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong’s fitness…
The Saints manager has revealed that the 29-year-old could still be out for another couple of weeks with his calf injury.
The Austrian has confirmed that Theo Walcott and Armstrong will both miss the match against Manchester City, with the latter still dealing with blood in his calf.
He told the Daily Echo: “Longy (Shane Long) is also back. However, (Theo) Walcott and Stuart Armstrong are still out and this will take some time.
“They are only muscle problems, less intense ones. I think it will not take that long until they are back, so they are not big muscle problems, just smaller ones.
“But at the moment we have also the alternatives, so don’t take a risk and not to push them too hard to come back.
“Yes, and also with Stu with the calf. There is a bit of blood still in there and it will take a few more days, maybe one or two weeks to come back.”
Southampton fans could be frustrated by this update as it suggests that Armstrong could still be out for the next few matches.
The Saints face Manchester City, Sheffield United, Wolves and Chelsea within the next two weeks before the international break and there appears to be a possibility that the Scotland international will miss all of them. Hasenhuttl’s side host Leeds on 16 October after the international break and that could be the next game where fans can expect to see him play if his calf needs two weeks to heal.
Fans will be frustrated with his absence because Armstrong has proven his worth to the club in recent seasons. Last term, he averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.76 as he scored four goals and set up five from out wide in 32 starts. This came after he managed five goals and three assists in 19 starts in the previous campaign.
Last year, Hasenhuttl heaped praise on Armstrong for his ability to be hard-working as one of the two wide number 10s in his 4-2-2-2 formation.
The manager said: “In a 4-2-2-2 with two No10 positions, that chance was a bigger one. When we changed the shape, he was there at the right moment and showed up.
“From that moment on, he showed me he can be a No10 that is disciplined and is hard-working against the ball which is what I expect from him.
“It’s a very demanding position and you must be smart and disciplined for this position.”
This shows how important the 29-year-old is to the optimisation of Southampton’s 4-2-2-2 setup, as he provides the hard work and attacking quality needed to thrive in that position. Therefore, Saints fans must be disappointed to hear that he is set to be out for a longer period of time, rather than being fit to face Manchester City this weekend.