Gaston Ramirez is touch and go to be available for Saints’ crunch match against Reading tomorrow.

Nigel Adkins has confirmed that the £12m star is expected back in the country today after a dash to Uruguay following a family bereavement.

However, Adkins will need to make a judgement call as to whether Ramirez is any condition to feature against the Royals.

Not only has he had an emotional upheaval to deal with but a physically exhausting round trip, covering almost 14,000 miles and more than 28 hours of flying in the space of just a handful of days.

“Gaston went back to Uruguay last Sunday for compassionate reasons,” said Adkins.

“He is back now so we will have a good chat with him.

"He has done a bit of training over in Uruguay so that is beneficial and I am sure he will be desperately wanting to play at the weekend.

"We'll have a good chat with him, but, knowing Gaston, he'll want to play."

Ramirez’s availability would be a major boost for Adkins ahead of what is a vital match in Saints’ season.

With Saints third from bottom hosting second from bottom Reading only a win at St Mary’s will do.

Adkins has been able to field a settled side of late, naming an unchanged team in five back-to-back matches in which Saints have picked up eight points.

He would ideally like to make it a sixth game unchanged but much will depend on Ramirez.

The Saints boss has also backed forgotten keeper Artur Boruc to step back in as and when required.

Paulo Gazzaniga has remained in goal despite several mistakes, relegating club captain Kelvin Davis to the bench.

Boruc started successive matches against West Ham and Tottenham earlier in the season but the Polish goalkeeper has not been seen in the first-team since the conclusion of an investigation into an alleged incident against Spurs and Adkins, who in early November said Boruc was back in contention, only had praise for him.

"He is training very hard and he is in good shape," the Saints boss said. "We have practice matches amongst ourselves.

"He is in good fettle at this moment of time. From Artur's point of view, he is fit, he is strong, he is training well and is good shape."