Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has revealed that midfielder Will Smallbone is due to return to first-team training on Thursday after a long injury lay-off.
Smallbone picked up an ACL injury against Leicester City back in January and has since spent his time recovering from what can be a troublesome problem to come back from for footballers. Going on Hasenhuttl’s words though, things look positive.
Speaking to the media in his pre-match press conference, the Saints boss said:
"“Will is now on the edge of coming back into training. He is still a no but I think that for the first time since the injury he will join us [in training] today. We have not forced any duels with him. We have not forced any uncontrolled movements. We have tried to give him time and it is looking like he is now close to returning.”"
Southampton to be without Armstrong and Walcott against West Ham
It is good news on Smallbone and he will provide an extra option in central-midfield alongside James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Ibrahima Diallo for Saints going forward.
More from Saints Marching
- Grading the Southampton Transfer Window Part 2: Arrivals
- Grading the Southampton Transfer Window Part 1: Departures
- It’s time to talk about Gavin Bazunu
- Rain clouds on the horizon? Southampton beat Plymouth Argyle
- A lament for Southampton legend James Ward-Prowse
Bad news did come when Hasenhuttl confirmed that Stuart Armstrong and Theo Walcott were ruled out of facing West Ham. Armstrong is still recovering from his calf issue and Walcott is said to have a minor injury problem.
One other player who could also miss the weekend is Shane Long. He tested positive for Covid-19 whilst on international duty with the Republic of Ireland last week and is still self-isolating in a hotel, according to Hasenhuttl.
Moussa Djenepo has already returned to training after playing for Mali recently and Tino Livramento played a home game for England Under-21s on Tuesday, but Armando Broja, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Jan Bednarek will be due back in the country today.
It was a successful period of international fixtures for the latter three in particular as they all played a part in big results for their countries. Broja and Elyounoussi were also in goalscoring form for Albania and Norway respectively.
It remains to be seen whether those three will be available for selection on Saturday after their travels across Europe, but some other players could be involved for Saints for the first time against West Ham.
Summer signings Lyanco and Thierry Small were both involved in training this week and will be wanting to make their first appearances for the club.