Nigel Adkins stressed there was no guarantee Saints’ result against Sunderland would have been any different had injured captain Adam Lallana played.

The midfielder, who is expected to miss the next few weeks with knee ligament damage, was absent for the 1-0 defeat to the Black Cats at St Mary’s.

Adkins insisted the club are not overly-reliant on the 24-year-old and that a healthy Lallana might not have proved to be a difference on Saturday.

“It can’t be about one player. Every team’s going to have players that are going to be missing,” said Adkins.

“You’ve got to have a strong enough group of players that can go and contribute. Who’s to say if Adam had been playing it would have been any different?

“We’ve played Gastón Ramírez on the left-hand side to start off with and he plays there for Uruguay, and he does that very well, so we’ve got a talented player that has gone and played the position that Adam would have done.

“We can’t just turn round and say losing one player or missing one player was the (cause) of the result.”

Lallana’s absence led to Adkins employing a 4-4-2 formation, rather than his preferred 4-2-3-1 set-up, with Emmanuel Mayuka handed his first Premier League start in favour of Jay Rodriguez.

While the team offered barely any threat throughout the match, the Saints manager said it had been a different story in training during the week.

“We started Emmanuel and one of the big reasons was so we could get him in behind,” said Adkins.

“I’ll have to analyse why we didn’t. Why we didn’t find the pass, or why the run wasn’t there? I don’t know, but we didn’t get in behind."

Full story in today's Daily Echo.