Hasenhuttl confirms Romeu return as Saints eye strong finish

James Holland
Oriol Romeu Ralph Hasenhuttl Southampton F365

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is hoping the return of defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu will help them to end the season strongly.

The Spaniard has been out of action since February after undergoing surgery on an ankle problem.

In his absence, the Saints have looked shaky at the back, conceding 20 goals in 11 games.

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Arguably their worst performance in that time was a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester City, during which Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez bagged two goals each.

However, Hasenhuttl’s men have enjoyed some success in recent weeks. They’ve recorded back-to-back 3-1 victories over Crystal Palace and Fulham, setting them up for a strong end to the campaign.

Speaking ahead of their game against Leeds on Tuesday, Hasenhuttl said: “It’s important for us to to show our better face in the final games of the season, that helps us definitely for maybe ending up in a (higher) position and also having a better pre-season.

“It feels good that all players are coming back, that we have not seen as many injuries any more and that definitely gives us more quality.

“We know that we had a tough second half of the season, and we also knew the reason why this happens.

“Now we can show that whenever players are coming back and everybody is fit again, that we can do it much better than the weeks before.

“There are four wins in a row possible and this is the goal we have.”

When asked about 29-year-old Romeu, the Austrian continued: “Oriol has an opportunity to play. We must handle it carefully, but I would like to have him in the squad, even on the bench.

“We must have a look at how his body reacts after training today, then we can make a decision.

“After such a long break, I think there is not a risk with his injury – this is good so far and it more depends how fit he is.”

Hasenhuttl and the Saints will also benefit from the return of fans against Leeds. 8000 supporters are expected to make the trip to St Mary’s for the 18:00 kick-off.

“There is no question that football is nothing without fans,” Hasenhuttl said.

“It was too long now missing them and we are really happy that we can get 8,000 now.

“It will be an amazing atmosphere tomorrow I think, because 8,000 is a huge number.

“I think last time we had 2,000 and there was also a very good feeling, so 8,000 will be massive for us and a good first step so as not to overload us.

“This is a special moment for every player and especially when you start it with a home game, it can definitely push you.”