Hasenhuttl announces return of two key Southampton players for Newcastle clash

Ralph Hasenhuttl before a match Credit: Alamy
Ralph Hasenhuttl before a match Credit: Alamy

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl will not take any risks in managing the return of Romeo Lavia.

The 18-year-old joined the Saints from Manchester City during the summer and made a positive impression during the opening month of the campaign, scoring in the win over Chelsea.

Lavia was then forced off with a hamstring injury during the second half of the 2-1 victory, and has not been back in first-team action since.

After playing for Southampton’s B team last weekend, Lavia has resumed training with the rest of the squad and could feature against Newcastle on Sunday.

Hasenhuttl, though, intends to take things slowly so as not to risk losing the Belgian again for another extended spell.

“Romeo Lavia is in contention, yes. He had some problems with his knees which is common when you are long out, then you have some other issues,” the Southampton manager said.

“You have to be careful. Yesterday he was not training, but I think he will be part of the squad on the weekend. This is what I think is quite likely.”

Centre-back Armel Bella-Kotchap dislocated his shoulder in the draw with West Ham but is another who is in contention for Sunday.

“Bella-Kotchap is also an option for the weekend. He is back in training and has trained everything and shows no fear,” Hasenhuttl told a press conference.

Kyle Walker-Peters, though, is not expected to feature before the World Cup break as the right-back manages his hamstring problem.

“It has gone from low to no (possibility),” Hasenhuttl said. “We have one week left and he is not training with us, so I don’t think so.”

While Southampton are aiming to stay out of the bottom three, Newcastle head to St Mary’s Stadium aiming to maintain their top-four ambitions under Eddie Howe.

“He was a long time in Bournemouth. Now he has a club where he can show he can deal with the bigger side and it is fantastic to watch,” Hasenhuttl said.

“You have to work with the players you have. He did well there (at Bournemouth) and then struggled a little bit.

“Then he was not in a job for a while, but at Newcastle he showed immediately that he knows what he does with a team and, for me, this is not a surprise how successful he has been.”

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