Southampton supporters will welcome a change in scenery when their club begin their Carabao Cup campaign tonight against Brighton after a disappointing start to the new Premier League season.
And some of the Southampton players will also be glad to see the second round of the League Cup arrive, seeing it as a chance to get some more game time under their belts with manager Mark Hughes set to make a host of changes following the team’s 2-1 defeat against Leicester City on Saturday.
So, with that in mind, here are three individuals who could be called upon and need to make an impression if so.
Angus Gunn arrived at St. Mary’s this summer from Manchester City in a £13.5m deal (via BBC Sport), but has not featured in any of Southampton’s first three Premier League fixtures.
After a strong finish to last season, Hughes has continued to put his faith in Alex McCarthy, and the 28-year-old appears to be the Saints’ undisputed No.1.
As things stand, unless McCarthy picks up an injury, it could be some time until Gunn gets a genuine shot between the Southampton goal posts in the Premier League.
But, with Fraser Forster still at the club, Gunn knows a good performance is needed tonight to put the pressure on McCarthy and not fall down the goalkeeper pecking order.
Hughes has reassured Shane Long that he is in his plans for the current season (via Irish Mirror), but it is almost certain that the 31-year-old is set for another campaign on the periphery.
Long’s goal-scoring stats since the August of 2016 are very underwhelming and, if he is to earn a more predominant role, then he simply has to do better in front of goal starting tonight versus Brighton.
The form of deadline-day signing Danny Ings and goal-scoring efficiency of Charlie Austin will make it difficult for Long to get regular game time as a No.9.
However, with not a tonne of options to choose from out wide, Long could give Hughes something to think about if he can offer more than a few runs in behind defenders on the pitch when selected.
Like Long, Gabbiadini has had his struggles in front of goal and appears to be firmly behind both Ings and Austin in Hughes’ pecking order up front.
The former Napoli man had been linked with a move back to Serie A (via CalcioMercato) but, with nothing having materialised, the 26-year-old will have to settle for a cover role from the Southampton substitute bench.
A good performance tonight against Premier League opposition, though, could help Gabbiadini’s chances going forward.
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