Southampton received yet another blow at the weekend as it was confirmed that star striker Danny Ings is set to miss around four weeks of action through injury but in his absence, Ralph Hasenhuttl should rely on youngster Nathan Tella to step up.
The academy talent has established himself as something of a regular in Southampton’s matchday squad in recent weeks and was handed the second Premier League start of his career in the 2-0 win against Sheffield United at the weekend.
The 21-year-old was originally seen as a winger but impressed in a striker role for David Horseman’s B team earlier in the season, scoring four goals in a 5-2 win against Leicester City in the Premier League 2.
This was clearly enough to convince Hasenhuttl to give him more regular chances in his first-team, as he has gone on to make nine appearances in the Premier League, as well as one in the FA Cup, where he earned his first assist for the senior side in the 2-0 win against Wolves.
Tella was originally selected alongside Ings in attack at Bramall Lane at the weekend but when the former Liverpool man was forced off injured in the first half, he partnered Che Adams, which could well be Hasenhuttl’s preferred front two for upcoming fixtures, as both impressed with their performances.
The former Arsenal youngster was a constant thorn in the Sheffield United defence with his pace and willingness to make runs in behind, which led to Southampton’s opening goal, as he was fouled by Ethan Ampadu for a penalty, which James Ward-Prowse tucked away.
Following the game, Hasenhuttl was full of praise for Tella, saying:
“He can be a threat against everybody because he is quick, even on the ball, he is calm.
“He is never nervous, he is never arrogant and he has a good mixture of enjoying what he is doing and staying calm on the pitch.”
Therefore, it seems clear that the Austrian is a big fan of Tella and he should have faith in him to step up in the absence of Ings for the next month or so, despite him having made just 12 senior appearances for Southampton in his career thus far.