Ralph Hasenhuttl does not believe transfer speculation has affected the form of Southampton striker Danny Ings.
Ings has only found the net three times since the turn of the year, but Hasenhuttl believes a lack of service is to blame for the drop off rather than the England striker being distracted by swirling speculation about his future.
“Sure I speak sometimes with him about this and I can imagine that you get more pressure when you are not committing to one way, to our way for example at the moment,” the Saints boss said.
“He has his reasons why he doesn’t do it and that gives himself a little bit of pressure maybe. But I think he is experienced enough to handle this.
“We miss his goals he scores all the time normally and at the moment he doesn’t. But that’s on me or us to bring him more often in the position where he can score.
“This is where I am concentrating, that we find a way to bring him more often in the dangerous zones, and then when he is there I am not afraid that he cannot help us.
“So this is my goal I have and the rest is not so much my opinion at the moment.”
Hasenhuttl is certain Southampton will soon turn around their wretched run as the Austrian prepares his struggling side for a fight at rock-bottom Sheffield United.
Injury-hit Saints have lost eight of their previous nine Premier League matches, leaving them just seven points from Fulham in the final relegation spot.
Monday’s 1-0 loss at Everton was the latest setback but Hasenhuttl is confident they will soon get back to winning ways, saying that “we know that we are not ill or something”.
Saturday’s trip to Bramall Lane could provide a much-needed shot in the arm. But the Saints boss is expecting a tough match against a struggling side buoyed by their midweek win again Aston Villa.
Are Southampton in relegation battle?
Asked if he considers the south coast side to be in a relegation battle, Hasenhuttl said: “You can call it how you want. For one it’s a relegation battle, for another one it’s something else.
“I think we have done something right in this season otherwise we wouldn’t have 30 points at this stage and now it’s about, yeah, finding the first win.
“But we know how to do this. It’s not that we haven’t won a game since ever. We had won a game in the cup against Wolves and Arsenal.
“So, yes, they were cup games and not Premier League games but against Premier League sides, and I think we know what we have to do to play good football and to win games.
“But the more players we have, the more players are coming back, the more alternatives there are, the easier it is for us to find a game plan that makes us a competitive side.
“It’s important to be a competitive side against Sheffield because they will fight for everything.”
Takumi Minamino, Kyle Walker-Peters and Ibrahima Diallo are pushing to return against the Blades, who Saints handily beat 3-0 at St Mary’s in December’s reverse fixture.