Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has suggested that the Saints could see Stuart Armstrong make a return to action tonight against Leeds United, while he also revealed that Ibrahima Diallo will be back earlier than team-mate Theo Walcott.
The Saints were without all three of Armstrong, Diallo and Walcott for the 1-1 draw against Chelsea at the weekend as they halted their six-game losing run in the Premier League. Hasenhuttl had already revealed that Armstrong’s injury was not too bad and his absence was mainly to ensure that his fitness levels improve so he can play two games in quick succession.
Diallo and Walcott have both been out for a prolonged period, with the pair both suffering injuries during the Saints’ 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa last month. That has left the Saints thin on the ground in the last few weeks and Hasenhuttl has been forced to rely on a much smaller group than is ideal given the hectic fixture schedule.
Speaking to Hampshire Live ahead of the trip to Leeds, Hasenhuttl revealed that Armstrong is 50-50 to feature in the game. He also suggested that Diallo’s injury is not as bad as Walcott’s and the midfielder will therefore be ready to return to action before the Everton loanee, although no timescale has been given yet on either player. He said:
“It’s 50-50 (Armstrong’s chances of featuring). That is a lot for me, it doesn’t sound a lot to you, but it’s a lot! As far as I have seen we have no more injuries – but normally I get all good messages and then they come and tell me that we have a few issues.
Diallo will be back a little bit earlier [than Walcott], I think. There is no tendon involvement. Theo will take a little bit longer. Every player who comes back will help, definitely.
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The news on Armstrong is very welcome, but Hasenhuttl needs to be cautious over him and, if there is any doubt over his fitness, it might be best to wait until the game at Everton next Monday to bring him back. Moussa Djenepo delivered a strong performance in the draw with Chelsea, so there is no need to rush the Scot back into action prematurely.
As for Diallo, it is encouraging that he could be back sooner than expected and the issue is not as bad as it could have been. The midfielder was just getting into his stride in the Premier League and asserting himself as one of the Saints’ key performers before his injury. However, he should return to action fresh for the final stretch of the season.
Walcott’s injury timescale is still unknown but, from this update, it seems it will be a while before he is back in action again. That is a major shame because games are running out for him to convince Southampton that he is worthy of being signed permanently in the summer.