Ralph Hasenhüttl has revealed Mario Lemina has made “a big step forward” in his recovery from injury and could be involved as Southampton face three games in eight days.
First up is the long journey to Newcastle on Saturday, where Saints would leapfrog their hosts with victory, followed by a midweek trip to FA Cup finalists Watford, before returning home to St Mary’s against Bournemouth.
The boss is grateful to have the Gabonese midfielder so close to fitness as the season nears its climax, with his team still needing points to preserve the club’s Premier League status.
“Mario Lemina made a big step forward in the week,” Hasenhüttl told the media at his pre-match press conference. “He’s trained with the team and looks much better now – that’s good for him and good for us.
“We know we have an intense week with three games, so it will be nice if we have one more option in this position.
“I have spoken about it and I am sure he will play [at least] one more game this season. The chances are big because now he is training with the team, so maybe his injury has come to an end.”
Meanwhile, Jannik Vestergaard is a doubt for the trip to St James’ Park having missed training on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Like in the last weeks, after intense games he has little problems and needs a little bit longer for recovery,” Hasenhüttl explained.
“It’s a long season with a huge body, so at the moment he is struggling a little bit, but let’s have a look and see if it’s possible at the weekend.
The manager also revealed “little problems” for Alex McCarthy, Matt Targett and Charlie Austin, but the trio may still be available, while Yan Valery is definitely fit to play.
Michael Obafemi is training alone as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.