Ralph Hasenhuttl is hopeful that James Ward-Prowse will return ahead of their meeting with Burnley at the St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
Ward-Prowse sustained a suspected knee injury in Southampton’s 3-2 defeat against Tottenham just over a week ago.
Hasenhuttl said: “Today is his first time on the pitch. We tried to keep him out for as long as possible. Players always like to come back on the pitch and he handled it well I think.
“It looks good and hopefully he can play on the weekend. We now have a few more options [at right-back], so he can play in the No. 6 position again.”
Southampton have won five of their last eight league games but have lost back-to-back matches in all competitions for the first time since mid-December.
“We have to concentrate on the league and fight back to the winning track,” Hasenhuttl said.
He added, “Everybody used the days off to recover, to re-charge their batteries. Everybody is back and the whole squad is fit.”
Burnley comfortably won 3-0 against the Saints on the opening day of the season and head into their next meeting off the back of a three-match unbeaten run.
The Clarets surprisingly defeated Leicester City and Manchester United respectively and also drew 0-0 against Arsenal before the mid-season break.
Manager Sean Dyche said: “The results aid the group and just helps bring inner confidence. If you are on a bad run people get a little bit tight on things.
“We have a lot of work to do. I think we’ve been unfortunate with a couple and there’s a couple we haven’t done well enough in. When we get the balance right I think we can compete.”
Saints could feature Kyle Walker-Peters, who joined on-loan from Spurs in the January transfer window, although Jan Valery is also expected to be fit.
Both clubs are on 31 points heading into the game and could move as high as 10th place if they avoid defeat. But Hasenhuttl is seeking revenge for their defeat in the opening fixture of the season.
“It’s always difficult to play against Burnley. We lost the first game 3-0 so we know how tough it is. We want to show them that we’re better now than we were at the beginning of the season,” he said.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Southampton and Hasenhuttl, especially since their 9-0 defeat against Leicester City in October. They were firmly embroiled in a relegation dogfight but have steered themselves 7 points clear of the drop zone with 7 wins from their last 12 league games.
Former Burnley striker Danny Ings has been instrumental to Saints’ renaissance – scoring 14 goals in 25 appearances last season. Dyche credited Ings’ mentality, saying, “He has done well, the work the staff did here with him when he had some ups and downs with tough injuries.
“He has a great mentality to come through them. He never quite got a run of fitness and games at Liverpool and has now found his fitness and form.
“It’s not a surprise to me because he is a good player.”
Southampton have no injury issues and may also give Walker-Peters his debut for the club.
Hasenhuttl also expects Ward-Prowse to feature just under a fortnight since his injury at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Burnley could be without Matt Lowton and Charlie Taylor. Both defenders are set to be assessed ahead of the game.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Ashley Barnes remain out, although the Dyche has confirmed that the latter has returned to training. New signing Josh Brownhill will also be in the squad for the Clarets.
- Southampton have failed to win any of their last six meetings with Burnley (D3 L3).
- Saints last won against the Clarets in a 3-1 league win on 16 October 2016.
- Southampton have also failed to score in four of their last six games against Burnley.
- Burnley are looking to complete the league double over Southampton for the first time since 1946/47.
- The Clarets are looking to keep three Premier League clean sheets for the first time since December 2017.
- Saints have lost two of their last three Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 10 (W6 D2 L2).