Dani Osvaldo is hoping to make his Saints return this weekend against a Yeovil side whose entire squad costs the same as he earns in a few days.
The club record signing, who joined for a fee that could reach as much as £14.5m and is reported to earn around £50,000 a week, should play in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Yeovil.
The Somerset club’s entire squad cost an estimated £20,000 – and all that was on young striker Kieffer Moore from non league Dorchester Town last summer. A combination of injury, illness, and then a three game ban for violent conduct has meant the Italian has been sidelined since mid-December, his last outing being that fateful game against Newcastle that led to the suspension.
Osvaldo had a tricky time adapting to the Premier League in the immediate aftermath of his move from Roma in the summer but was just beginning to pick up some form before his extended absence.
He scored in back-to-back home games for Saints against Aston Villa and Man City before the Newcastle debacle.
Osvaldo was forced off injured at half time of the game at St James Park but later landed himself in trouble after a flare up between the respective benches.
At that stage Saints were obviously unaware that illness would follow his recovery from injury and appealed the FA’s violent conduct charge.
As it turned out, if they were to have accepted it Osvaldo would have served his ban during his recovery from injury and illness and would have been available since the turn of the year.
However, fate conspired against them and in fact he picked up the ban just as he was physically ready to return to the first team squad.
Mauricio Pochettino is likely to give Osvaldo game time against Yeovil.
Though the FA Cup is still not a top priority for Saints this season, Pochettino fielded a pretty strong side to get past Burnley 4-3 in the previous round.
He will give time to fringe players but also ensure he has a side capable of reaching the fifth round.
The gulf between the finances of the two clubs is obvious though when you look at the massive fee paid for Osvaldo and the meagre amount forked out for the entire Yeovil squad, who are made up almost exclusively of either free or loan signings.
Even without £12m man Gaston Ramirez and £8.5m centre half Dejan Lovren, who are both missing through injury, and potentially £12m Victor Wanyama who is only touch and go to be fit, Saints still have an embarrassment of riches at their disposal and could field the likes of £7m Jay Rodriguez.
The latest blow for Gary Johnson’s side, currently second bottom of the Championship but coming into the game on the back of an impressive win over Birmingham, is the news that Leicester loanee Zoumana Bakayogo has had to return to his parent club.
The full back ruptured his ACL at Birmingham last weekend.