Ronald Koeman is likely to pitch Shane Long back into the Southampton attack if he can prove his fitness for Saturday’s trip to Stoke.
The Saints’ chief missed the Republic of Ireland international in last week’s 1-1 draw against Sunderland after he was ruled out with a slight knee injury.
However, it appears Long, who is the Saints’ top scorer with 10 goals so far this season and has bagged two in the last three games, should be fit enough to return to the fold at the Britannia Stadium.
The news will be a boost for Koeman, who is definitely without January signing Charlie Austin, and the Dutch tactician will no doubt pair him back up with Italian forward Graziano Pelle in attack.
Pelle, who has been linked with a return to his homeland with AC Milan this week, is suffering a personal goal drought but he featured alongside Long in the Saints’ recent victories against West Ham and Swansea.
And Koeman likes the way he can use his height and physical presence to open up gaps for Long to exploit in the opposition’s penalty area.