Oriol Romeu will miss the rest of the season with a fractured ankle, as Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl bemoaned their “never-ending” injury crisis.
The Spaniard was forced off during the closing stages of the 3-0 Premier League defeat at Leeds on Tuesday and will have an operation next week.
Saints have several players currently unavailable, with on-loan Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino also now ruled out of Monday night’s trip to Everton because of a hamstring problem.
Kyle Walker-Peters, Theo Walcott and Ibrahima Diallo are continuing their own recovery, while Michael Obafemi and William Smallbone are long-term absentees.
After moving top of the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history on the back of an impressive November run, Southampton have dropped down the table and now sit 14th.
Defeat at Leeds was a seventh in the past eight Premier League matches, during which Hasenhuttl accepts he had to send out a patched-up side – with Academy players on the bench just to make up numbers.
“Oriol Romeu’s season is over. Surgery on Monday means three months out,” the Saints boss said.
“He has a fracture on his ankle and definitely this season is over for him. It will take a minimum of three months until he is back.
“This season is a never-ending story.
“Since our fantastic run in autumn we started with the (Danny) Ings injury and then we had Jannick (Vestergaard) out, now Kyle out, so that was how it started and it never ended.
“It was clear it was hard to end, because we had the most intense time over Christmas with less chances to rotate so you always play the players until they are injured.
“Ibra then Theo were out, so it was always a problem with never playing with the best possible team.
“But we are not the only team which struggled with injuries, but for us it has hurt us very much this season yes.”
Southampton need bigger squad
Hasenhuttl, though, accepts there is little Saints can do now but just roll their collective sleeves up and get on with it.
“We tried to manage the load, like we did in the last game, but then you see that it is tough to win games,” said the Austrian.
“What is the conclusion for the future? We definitely see that we have a lot of young players, they are not so far (away) to help us immediately, so we need to have a bigger squad in the future, this is what we know.
“Therefore you need maybe a lot of money to get this, otherwise it is tough to get players that they can help you immediately in the Premier League.
“I just don’t know who plays on the (number) six (position in midfield) at Everton.
“It is up to the young players to play and stepping in as a young player is not the best right now.
“The situation we are in, we need to look at every option because there are not a lot.”
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