Ralph Hasenhuttl has been handed a significant boost at Southampton in the last week, with Michael Obafemi back in training after a lengthy injury, and the youngster could well feature in the game against Leicester City on Friday night.
The 20-year-old has been out of action since January following ongoing surgery on a leg muscle injury, which prevented him from joining Swansea City on loan.
Although the young striker made just two substitute appearances for Southampton earlier in the season, his return could prove to be an important one for Hasenhuttl, who will be without top scorer Danny Ings for the game against Brendan Rodgers’ side due to injury.
The Republic of Ireland under-21 international has found himself behind fellow youngsters Dan N’Lundulu and Nathan Tella in the pecking order this season, and considering that his contract is set to expire at the end of the 2021/22 campaign, he has a lot to prove in the next 13 months or so.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see if he gets much game-time between now and the end of the season, as the Saints are likely safe from relegation and have little to play for, so there seems no harm in giving him further opportunities to impress.
Certainly, his “unbelievable pace” could prove to be a factor on Friday night if Hasenhuttl decides to utilise him, as in the absence of Ings, the Saints will need some pace alongside Che Adams up front if they want to test the Leicester defence.
Although Hasenhuttl has questioned his attitude in the past, Obafemi has clearly worked hard to get back to fitness before the end of the season and deserves a chance to show what he can do in the Premier League, having already scored four top-flight goals in his career.
He could even prove to be Hasenhuttl’s game-changer against the Foxes, especially if he is used as an impact substitute, as he could trouble a tired Leicester defence with his pace late on, so it is definitely a boost to have him back available.