Koeman insists Southampton can cope without Pelle

Rob Conlon
Graziano Pelle: Striker suspended for trip to Etihad Stadium

Graziano Pelle: Striker suspended for trip to Etihad Stadium

Ronald Koeman insists Southampton will cope without suspended striker Graziano Pelle against Manchester City on Saturday.

Pelle – Southampton’s leading scorer with nine goals in all competitions this season – will miss the trip to the Etihad Stadium having picked up his fifth booking of the campaign in the 1-0 defeat to Stoke City.

However Koeman is confident Republic of Ireland forward Shane Long will be able to fill the void left by the Italy international.

“You are missing a player who normally always starts the game and it’s the top scorer in the team, but last season we played without Graziano in the team against Chelsea away and we had a good result (1-1),” the Dutchman said.

“I still remember what John Terry said after the game, that he found it so tough to play against Shane Long. It’s a different player but different qualities, [and] also a very dangerous front player.”

Opponents City will be looking to avoid a third-successive loss – something which has never happened under Manuel Pellegrini – after defeats to Liverpool and Juventus, and are likely to be without a host of big name stars.

“Teams like City, they are used to having the pressure of winning games. If you don’t win as a big team, there are always critics,” Koeman added.

“They have some big injuries in key players at the moment and even for City that is difficult handle for the number of games they play.”