After returning from injury recently, Southampton striker Michael Obafemi seemingly has an ideal opportunity to prove himself to Ralph Hasenhuttl in the final few games of the Premier League season.
The Republic of Ireland U’21 international was close to joining Swansea City on loan in the January transfer window after barely featuring in the first half of the season, before an injury problem meant that the deal was called off and that he would stay at Staplewood to recover.
However, the 20-year-old has now made a full recovery and should be in contention to feature in some of Southampton’s final five Premier League fixtures which, barring an unlikely series of results from Fulham and West Brom, will have very little bearing on the Saints’ season.
Hasenhuhttl’s side look to be safe from relegation despite an awful run of form in 2021, which suggests that some of the younger players in the squad could be given opportunities to impress over the coming weeks.
Obafemi has made just two substitute appearances for the Saints this season and has seemingly fallen behind the likes of Nathan Tella and Dan N’Lundulu in the pecking order, despite having plenty of experience in the Premier League.
In total, the 20-year-old forward has made 35 appearances for the senior side at Southampton, in which he has contributed five goals and four assists, yet it seems that Hasenhuttl is not convinced by his professionalism, which might explain his lack of appearances earlier in the season.
However, now that he has returned from injury at a time where Danny Ings is currently sidelined, it seems as if he has been handed a golden chance to prove that he has the quality to play in the Premier League, and these next few games could end up defining his Southampton career.
After all, Obafemi has just one year left on his deal, and if he fails to impress in the next few weeks, he could end up departing St Mary’s ahead of next season, either on loan or permanently, which would be a shame as he has shown a lot of promise at times, notably when he became Southampton’s youngest ever scorer in the Premier League back in 2018.