Although Southampton were able to bring an end to their woeful recent form with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday, their injury problems only increased, as talismanic striker Danny Ings was forced off in the first half.
Although his replacement Che Adams scored a superb second goal for the Saints against his old side, it is a huge cause for concern for Southampton that Ings is now set for another spell on the sidelines, with Ralph Hasenhuttl confirming following the game that the 28-year-old striker would likely miss at least four weeks with the muscle problem.
This comes as a huge blow to the South Coast club, who eased relegation fears with the three points on Saturday but cannot rule themselves out of being dragged back in, especially in the absence of their main goalscorer.
Ings has contributed eight goals and three assists in 22 top-flight appearances this season, in a campaign where he has failed to hit the heights of last season when he hit 22 goals in the Premier League.
However, injury problems have led to a stop-start season for the forward, whereas last season he featured in every Premier League game, and you feel that Hasenhuttl’s side would be in a much better position had he and other key players stayed fit.
James Ward-Prowse is the closest to Ings in terms of goals this season, as he took his league tally for the season to six with the penalty against Sheffield United, whereas Adams brought an end to his own barren run.
Hopefully, that will give him the confidence boost he needs to start finding the back of the net more regularly, as Hasenhuttl will be reliant on the former Birmingham City man to step up whilst Ings is sidelined.
Last season saw former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe sing Ings’ praises, as he said:
“The most impressive thing about Danny is, of course, he’s an outstanding player.”
Whilst he hasn’t been able to show that on a regular basis for Southampton in recent months, he is undoubtedly still one of the first names on the teamsheet for Hasenhuttl, and therefore, it is a big blow to lose him for so long.
How Southampton perform in his absence could be season-defining, as if they slip back into the awful run of form that saw them pick up one point in nine games, then Ings may have a big role to play in keeping the Saints up when he returns from injury.
And, in other news… Forget Tella: Saints beast who played 4 key passes was Hasenhuttl’s star vs SHU