In the latest Southampton news, Charlie Austin is hoping to spearhead a Saints survival charge as he edges towards a return to full fitness.
The 28-year-old forward has been sidelined since the end of December after tearing a hamstring during the 1-1 home draw with Huddersfield, but he has recently resumed full training and is closing in on a return to first-team action.
Austin was in good form before he picked up his injury – he had netted five goals in his seven previous Premier League appearances – and despite spending the last three months on the sidelines, he remains Saints’ top scorer.
Southampton have missed Austin’s firepower as they have only won once in the league during his absence, a run that has left them in the relegation zone and which ultimately cost Mauricio Pellegrino his job.
Austin is hoping he can rediscover his early-season form quickly to help steer the side away from danger.
He told the club’s official club website: “It’s been a frustrating time. It wasn’t like being out for two weeks, it’s been 14 weeks now.
“I was in such good form and that was the hard thing because I’d had to bide my time for ages to get in. Whilst that was going on, as a team we were underperforming and that’s why we’re in the situation we are.
“Now I’m back, we’ve got a big eight weeks and I’ll put all my energy into helping the team drive forward to stay in the Premier League.”
Mark Hughes has taken over as Southampton manager following Pellegrino’s dismissal and Austin believes the former Stoke boss is the right man to salvage the season.
He added: “You’ve got to embrace it, as men and as footballers. We’re under a lot of pressure at the moment, don’t get me wrong, but we need to push forward.
“I feel there’s enough character, talent and work ethic, and with the new coaching staff coming in with new ideas, it’s going to really help us.”