There has bee a sizeable overhaul at Southampton in the last month, or at least manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has made his intentions clear.
The Austrian swiftly got rid of striker Manolo Gabbiadini, and subsequently pursued other strikers such as Birmingham’s Che Adams throughout the transfer window, desperate to add to his options up front.
This must leave the remaining three strikers at Southampton feeling very uncomfortable indeed. Danny Ings, Shane Long and Charlie Austin must all know that over the next few months, they are effectively playing for their Southampton careers.
What is most strange about this is that it is hard to place your finger on which one will be departing St Mary’s at the end of the season. Of course, Ings seems the least likely seeing as he is to sign for Southampton at the end of the campaign as part of a bizarre loan deal/ purchase with Liverpool.
On the other hand, Austin and Long will both be desperate to impress. Southampton rejected four loan bids from other Premier League teams for Austin, which could suggest that they actually want the former QPR man still. However, this may have been more of a precautionary measure because Southampton knew they weren’t going to land a new striker and did not want to be stuck thin on the ground.
Austin has started eight Premier League games this season, scoring two goals. Meanwhile, Long has started six games this season scoring one goal. In terms of playing and scoring stats there isn’t a lot to separate the two players. The Irishman is 32 years of age while Austin is 29, meaning there may be slightly more interest in keeping the Englishman at the south coast.
Ultimately though, it is hard to separate these two players but it looks more than likely that there will be another overhaul in the summer with one of them to go. If Southampton want to stop being perennial relegation candidates, they will need to start improving their team and it looks like the manager has set his sights on revolutionising his attacking options. Long and Austin must show the form of their careers to persuade the Austrian to keep them.
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