Ralph Hasenhuttl has plenty of attacking options at his disposal. As such, some players will miss out of the 18-man matchday squad altogether this season, and both Sofiane Boufal and Shane Long fell victim to Southampton’s strength in depth against Liverpool.
Neither of the two attackers were even on the bench for the 2-1 defeat, with Hasenhuttl utilising Nathan Redmond and Che Adams as his starting forwards. Danny Ings, Michael Obafemi, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Djenepo took up the more forward-thinking berths as substitutes.
Boufal, according to The Daily Echo, has been given a second chance by Hasenhuttl at Southampton. The Moroccan is set to be in the thinking of the boss for the season ahead, and yet he was left out of the plans for the Liverpool loss.
Several Saints fans were rather bemused by his exclusion, and called for him to return to the fold for the team’s upcoming trip to Brighton and Hove Albion…
Twitter: No Boufal, might as well go home. #SaintsFC (@mtharries)
Twitter: No boufal? Strange one. Hope it’s just a knock and he’s not leaving to the continent… #saintsfc (@AdamAzor)
Twitter: @SouthamptonFC 3 in the mid makes sense here unless JWP presses forward.
Maya back = huge plus
Stephens out of si… https://t.co/qaqFnj9sEp (@EFranzo17)
All need to be playing next game IMO #SaintsFC (@_CaIlum_)
Twitter: We switched off a bit second half. Gotta keep the ball better. Gifting mistakes still. Redmond needs to do more too… https://t.co/LlxrilFckl (@vibesniper37)
Read Southampton’s verdict
All three of Hasenhuttl’s substitutes made an impact on Saturday, but it was still a shame to see Boufal miss out. He has looked good since returning to the first team; he played well in pre-season and looked reasonably sharp against Burnley last weekend.
Having a surplus of attacking talent is a nice problem for us to have, but managing Boufal carefully will be a difficult task for Hasenhuttl to succeed. We are well aware of his previous falling out with Mark Hughes, and keeping him happy while he is not on the pitch may be a challenge.
However, Boufal does have the natural ability and flair to really make a difference for Southampton this season, and in the games that are likely to be closely-contested such as that of Brighton away on Saturday, he could be a useful player to have – even on the bench.