Southampton face fierce rivals Portsmouth tonight for the first time since 2012, but will be without winger Moussa Djenepo for the clash as the Belgian continues to recover from a muscular injury, via Southampton’s official website.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has said that he will pick the strongest team available to him for this evening’s clash against Pompey, with Nathan Redmond – who had been sidelined with an ankle complaint prior to the recent defeat to Bournemouth – potentially featuring in some capacity at Fratton Park.
“I will pick the strongest XI that I can put on the pitch because we know about the importance of the game”, said Hasenhuttl.
The Austrian continued: “We will have a look if it makes sense or if it is too much risk to take him from the beginning. Maybe he [Redmond] is an option then from the bench. I take the best possible team but sure, we will not be taking risks to lose one player for a long time because in the last cup game we had three injured players.
“When my medical department says it is ok and you can take him, then I’ll do it but if not I don’t take the risk.” (via southamptonfc.com)
Summer signing Moussa Djenepo will definitely not feature this evening, however, as he is still struggling with the muscle injury which ruled him out of the club’s last Premier League fixture against Bournemouth last Friday.
Hasenhuttl said: “It can take longer until he is back in the team, which is not really good for us that he could be longer out.
“It’s a very difficult injury because the tendon is a little bit hurt and it’s a big risk to take him on the pitch. He still has problems with his muscle and he cannot shoot.”
It goes without saying just how important tonight’s game is for both Southampton and Portsmouth. The south coast derby is arguably one of the biggest in English football, a fixture Jamie Redknapp recently highlighted for its hostility, and the fact that the two teams have not met in almost a decade just adds to its anticipation.
Djenepo missing is a blow for the Saints, who struggled creatively without him against Bournemouth last week, losing 3-1 to the Cherries on home soil. He’s scored a third of the Saints’ goals in the Premier League in the current campaign, having bagged two goals in four games.
However, if Nathan Redmond is fit enough for a return, that will certainly give them a huge boost considering he is arguably the club’s biggest attacking threat, as shown last season as he finished with nine goals and six assists – more than any other Southampton player.
Saints fans, do you think your team will have enough in the tank to beat Portsmouth tonight? Let us know by commenting below!
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