Ralph Hasenhüttl says he will make a late decision on who replaces Danny Ings in the Southampton attack for Friday night’s Premier League clash with Newcastle at St Mary’s.
Saints’ top scorer has been sidelined for four to six weeks with the knee injury that forced him off late in Sunday’s win at Villa Park.
The boss stated Theo Walcott is among the contenders to fill the void alongside Ché Adams against the Magpies.
“I know about his history, that he plays quite a lot up front also,” he said of Walcott. “But we have quite a few strikers waiting for their chance – Longy, Michael (Obafemi), Dan N’Lundulu. We have a few guys fighting for the position beside Ché Adams.
“Training is one thing, the game is another thing. Who gets the chance on Friday to play should know this is a big chance and grab it, because we now have four to six weeks without Danny, so in the front we need somebody who gives us alternatives.
“We will have a look what we do. It’s always a little bit of planning on the tactical things we need for the weekend and who gives us the best opportunities for what we demand, and then we decide.”
Saints would hit the Premier League summit with victory, but the manager would not be drawn on whether he would use that potential milestone as a motivational tool.
“It’s not really surprising when I tell them this because I know that they know it,” he reasoned.
“In the moment, it’s a nice situation when you can do it, but I think it’s better to focus a little bit more on the things that can help us to get there.
“I don’t like this message: ‘what happens if we…’ let us first do it, and things we can really influence in the game to focus on a little bit more makes it much easier to win games.”