TADANARI Lee is expected to start for Saints in tonight’s Capital One Cup tie at Stevenage, as the striker completes his recovery from a serious foot injury.
The Japan international has not played a competitive match in more than five months, after being hurt during a training session in March, writes GORDON SIMPSON.
However, he has featured twice for the under-21 side in recent weeks and Saints manager Nigel Adkins revealed he intends to name him in the line-up for this evening’s second round contest at the Lamex Stadium.
Lee scored for the development squad on his return in a behind-closed-doors 3-3 friendly draw with Brighton, before playing over an hour in a 3-2 league victory against Sunderland.
Because of his injury, the forward has so far made just nine firstteam appearances for Saints since his free transfer from Sanfrecce Hiroshima in January, scoring once.
“We have Tadanari Lee and he has been out after an operation on his foot at the end of last season,” said Adkins.
“He played 70 minutes in a development game and has the perfect opportunity now in his rehabilitation.
“He is getting closer to full fitness and could actually start the game against Stevenage so that is what we will be looking to do.”
Lee will not be the only player to receive their first action of the season tonight, either.
Adkins is expected to make numerous changes to the team for the meeting with League One outfit Stevenage, as he looks to give fringe players a run out and keep his regular stars fresh for the visit of Manchester United on Sunday.
“Obviously it gives us an opportunity for some of the players who haven't started the last two games to start so there will be a bit of rotation,” said the Saints boss.
“We will be taking it seriously, though. We want to win every game of football.
“If you have got a shirt on playing for Southampton , you have a winning mentality that we have here.
“We want to go out and endeavour to win every game of football.”
Keeper Paulo Gazzaniga, who signed from Gillingham last month as back-up to Kelvin Davis should make his first appearance.
Centre backs Dan Seaborne and Jack Stephens will both be hoping for a place in the team, with midfielders Richard Chaplow and Dean Hammond also among those in contention for their first action of the season.
Stevenage manager Gary Smith has no new injury concerns ahead of the match, although defender Lee Hills, a summer signing from Crystal Palace, is still short of fitness and might miss out.