Southampton went into their Premier League meeting with Leicester City on Saturday with eight first-team players unavailable due to injury or Covid-19 issues.
That figure has now become nine after youngster Will Smallbone picked up an unfortunate season-ending ACL injury in the second-half to limit Saints’ options even more as they move into a busy period of the season.
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused many issues for clubs like Saints and now Ralph Hasenhuttl has explained why it is affecting his staff in the management of injuries and recovery in a way that is not obvious to fans.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saints’ FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury, he said:
"“We have some problems at the moment with muscle injuries and there are some reasons I think that are responsible for this.“We are in a fantastic building here but we cannot use anything (due to Covid-19). We cannot use our cryo chamber, the sauna, the pool, nothing, and we have still the same games with the same intensity.”"
As Hasenhuttl explains, Saints have been affected hugely in this way.
They have no access to their Cryotherapy chamber or pool – both of which can be used actively to aid recovery after a match and help with the recovery process after injuries.
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Many of Saints’ injury issues this campaign have been muscular problems and the reduction on tools to help the recovery of players will most definitely play a part.
Hasenhuttl’s side continue to play a high-intensity style of football and this will not change because it has been so successful for them in the past year.
The fact that the Saints players are having to cover a lot of ground whilst pressing in games and preparing in training may be leading to injuries which would be helped by access to recovery tools in any other season.
This situation does show the line that Saints are treading with a slim squad and this high-intensity football though.
With some of their best players consistently out through injury, they are unable to maintain the exact levels of performance that saw them in the top four at the beginning of 2020/21.
The performance at Leicester was still a high-quality one, but the finishing of Danny Ings, the midfield screening of Oriol Romeu and the passing ability from the back of Jannik Vestergaard could have seen them able to grab a draw or a win.