Saints are expected to be short on attacking numbers tomorrow, with Gastón Ramírez set to be on the sidelines again for the visit of Cardiff.

The Uruguayan playmaker would be the obvious choice to replace Jay Rodriguez in the line-up, following the England forward’s horror injury at Manchester City.

However, Ramírez himself was absent from the 4-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium with an ankle problem, and the issue is expected to keep him out for a few weeks.

That leaves Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino short on depth in the forward positions.

James Ward-Prowse came off the bench at City to replace Rodriguez, who is due to be out for about six months after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

It would appear likely that 19-year-old Ward-Prowse will be handed a 16th league start of the season, playing alongside Adam Lallana and Steven Davis in one of the three attacking roles behind lone striker Rickie Lambert.

Alternatively, Guly do Prado could feature, although the Brazilian has not started a league match this term, while 18-year-old striker Sam Gallagher is the other forward option, although fitting both him and Lambert into the team might necessitate a change in system.

For Pochettino, the lack of depth in attack is frustrating, although the timing of it means it hardly represents a crisis.

Saints are in a comfortable league position and seem destined to finish either eighth or ninth.

Even with the loss of the extremely influential Rodriguez and the talented Ramírez, who had begun to show flashes of better form, they still possess plenty of creativity in the line-up.

But they are clearly down to the bare bones, in terms of numbers, in the forward areas now, and any further absences could become problematic to cover.

There will hopefully be good news for Pochettino, though, when it comes to the fitness of Artur Boruc.

The keeper missed last Saturday’s contest at City with a slight back injury and will be assessed ahead of tomorrow’s match.

It is hoped that the Polish stopper will be fit to return in place of Paulo Gazzaniga.