Saints are expected to decide in the next 48 hours whether to ask the FA to investigate comments made by referee Mark Clattenburg to star midfielder Adam Lallana.

The controversy between Saints and the official dominated the build-up to Saints’ 4-3 FA Cup third round win over Burnley, in which Lallana came off the bench to score.

Saints wrote to the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the referees' governing body, on New Year’s Eve to formalise their complaint against Clattenburg.

After also refusing Saints a penalty in their 2-1 defeat to Everton on December 29, Clattenburg is alleged to have told Lallana: "You are very different now, since you've played for England - you never used to be like this."

But after a review the PGMOL has ruled there is no case to answer.

Saints are unhappy with that verdict and are now considering an appeal to the FA to investigate the matter.

The club will be fully aware that there is little chance of any action being taken against Clattenburg with the PGMOL having delivered their verdict already, but may ask for an investigation as a point of principle.

Saints are also unhappy about the prospect of Clattenburg refereeing their future matches, and an investigation would certainly underline that still further and could provide the motivation for a further complaint.

Mauricio Pochettinio’s assistant, Jesus Perez, was facing up to the press after the win over Burnley but refused to discuss the matter.

He said: “I haven’t the authority to talk about it. It’s a situation for the club.”

It’s been a tough week for Lallana, who has been blamed for the complaint, even though it was the club that submitted it.

However, his goal against Burnley proved Lallana’s strength of character and Perez said: “Everyone can see Adam Lallana this season. Every single minute he is on the pitch he tries to do his best and is always doing great, great things.

“He deserved it because of the example for the squad, daily on the training ground, and it’s no surprise for me when Adam Lallana on the pitch is doing things and scoring goals like he did.”

He added: “It hasn’t affected him. We are professionals.

“When you are in this business you have to be aware of everything.

“You have to stay away from the pressure of some things around football and just focus on being fit and being mentally ready to play.

“He played like the other players of the squad with the best mentality at the end of a tough period where it’s difficult to keep a strong mentality because fatigue is not only physical but also menta.

“It was important for us to get into the next round.”