Mark Hughes has confirmed Steven Davis and Charlie Austin as his only absentees for his first game in charge of Southampton at Wigan in Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup quarter-final.
Skipper Davis has not played for five weeks, while Austin has been sidelined since December with a hamstring injury.
But the new boss is hopeful the striker could play some part in Saints’ next Premier League outing at West Ham on March 31st.
“We’ve been speaking to Charlie over the last two days and he’s really encouraged by how it’s going,” said Hughes of Austin’s recovery.
“He’s not going to be involved this weekend, but we feel we’ve got a chance of integrating him for short periods next week. If we can do that, we can speed up his progress.
“With a bit of luck, if we can get him ready for West Ham that’s a massive positive.”
Hughes believes his appointment offers hope to those players who have not enjoyed as much game time as they would have liked of late.
“When players see a change in management, it maybe lightens the load on their frustration and any disappointment they’ve felt,” he explained.
“I’ve been through that process myself as a player and I’m sure they react in a certain way, and maybe feel their options are better after a change is made.
“I can only go on what I’ve seen from afar. I know a great deal about the players I’ve come here to work with.
“The key is if you perform well, you keep the shirt. We’re playing in the hardest league in world football and the standards need to be high to stay in the team.”