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Dearth of striking resources laid bare by Jay injury
Jay Rodriguez’s injury could add further pressure on Saints to strengthen their squad this summer – despite the club’s “difficult” financial position.
The devastating knee injury suffered by the forward has left him facing about six months on the sidelines, writing off the rest of this season and the World Cup, as well as the start of the next campaign.
It is a cruel blow for a young player who was in the form of his career and potentially on the cusp of gracing football’s grandest stage.
Beyond that, though, it could also have implications for the club this summer.
Saints’ new board has inherited what they describe as a “difficult” financial situation from previous chairman Nicola Cortese, with £27m still owed in transfer payments – £22m of which is due next season – and a £30m training ground to be funded.
That may well have an impact on spending in the upcoming window.
Yet, while they have enjoyed an outstanding season, Saints will no doubt have to strengthen their squad if they are to continue to progress, as they have for the past five years.
The likely loss of Rodriguez for the first two months of the next campaign only serves to heighten that need.
While he is one player Saints will have no desire to replace long-term, assuming he returns without his capabilities diminished, there is a potential void there for a fairly significant portion of the new season that might now need filling.
Saints’ ambition has been to climb the table and, ultimately, challenge for the European, and even Champions League, positions.
It is a vision that has been sold to many of the club’s players, who will want to see it committed to once again this summer.
The next few months are clearly a pivotal period for Saints, with a question mark hanging over the long-term future of manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is still being heavily linked with Tottenham.
A number of senior players have already expressed their desire to see the 42-year-old agree a new long-term contract, indicating that a fresh deal for him will help keep key members of the squad stay at the club. But they also want to see some quality additions arrive in the marketplace, in order to help them keep pace with the European contenders.
Attack is one area that will surely need addressing, with Rodriguez’s injury limiting their depth even further.
Immediately, Gastón Ramírez would appear the most obvious replacement, but he was absent from last Saturday’s game against Manchester City with an ankle injury.
Long-term, there is also a question mark over whether the 23-year-old will remain at the club, having been linked with a move back to Italy.
The Uruguay international has had a limited impact since arriving at St Mary’s in 2012, in what was then a club-record £12m deal, with six goals and six assists in 43 Premier League appearances, although he has shown better form in recent months.
James Ward-Prowse can also play one of the advanced midfield roles, but Saints have few options beyond that.
Guly do Prado can fit in there, but he has been used only sparingly and is out of contract in the summer.
In terms of out-and-out strikers, the only two available right now are Rickie Lambert and 18-year-old Sam Gallagher who, while promising, is only taking his initial steps at first-team level.
Club-record signing Dani Osvaldo had been a high-profile addition, but was loaned out after his alleged headbutt on teammate José Fonte.
However, the Italian international has done little with Juventus, failing to score in Serie A since arriving there at the end of January.
His lack of form makes it increasingly certain that the runaway leaders will not exercise the option to sign him permanently for a fee of about £15.6m at the end of the season.
That means Saints would have to accept a cut-price deal to get rid of him, which would at least possibly provide some funds to reinvest, or consider bringing him back into the fold – although that still appears a very unlikely option.
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