It was looking like another one of those nights for Southampton with their Carabao Cup second round clash against Brighton on course to go to penalties before substitute Charlie Austin popped up with the winner in the 88th minute.
Austin was brought on for Manolo Gabbiadini — who again endured a difficult time on the pitch — with just less than 10 minutes of normal time to play before scoring the only goal in the Saints’ 1-0 victory. Ultimately, While Austin continues to come up with the goods when fit, Gabbiadini’s struggles in front of goal will not go away.
Manager Mark Hughes, however, has confirmed the Italian still has a role to play at St. Mary’s this season.
“Gabbiadini struggled to a certain extent,” Hughes admitted to the Southern Daily Echo. “We’re conscious he hasn’t had game time here and players sometimes need games and runs of games.
“He won’t be going out [though]. I like the options I’ve got upfront, I have no intention of letting anybody else out.”
Gabbiadini’s difficulties in front of goal have become well-documented, and the former Napoli man has been linked with a move back to Serie A on numerous occasions (via CalcioMercato).
However, Hughes has made the right decision in deciding to keep the £10.8m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Italy international at St.Mary’s.
With Austin and Danny Ings both showing they can be susceptible to injury, Hughes cannot ignore the possibility of either — if not both — possibly being unavailable for parts of the season based on their history.
And, if so, Gabbiadini is the former Stoke City boss’ best bet as far as cover options go.
In the earlier part of his career at St.Mary’s, Gabbiadini showed he can be a deadly striker with that left foot of his and has given evidence of his ability to play in this division.
Gabbiadini now needs to find that form again, especially with the faith Hughes has put in him by keeping him at the club.