THE lack of strength in depth in Nigel Adkins’ squad was exposed at the weekend as Saints slipped to a miserable St Mary’s loss to away specialists Brentford.
Missing four frontline players, Saints were second best throughout as they were beaten 2-0.
It raised questions as to how vital it is that Saints now bring in fresh blood in next month’s transfer window.
Jose Fonte was suspended while Frazer Richardson, Richard Chaplow and Lee Barnard were all out injured.
But all four were replaced by players who had figured in at least half the league matches Saints have played this campaign.
But, despite the match going badly, the lack of depth in the squad was evident as Adkins didn’t even make his solitary substitution until there were just seven minutes remaining.
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Lee Holmes is also sidelined by injury, but he has not been anything like a regular performer.
In addition, Jason Puncheon, Joseph Mills, Paul Wotton and Anthony Pulis are all currently out on loan – the first two to Championship clubs.
Adkins admitted: “We didn’t anticipate before the loan window would shut that Lee Holmes and Lee Barnard would be out.
“That’s two players who could have continued and they haven’t so that’s unfortunate.
“We would have hoped Richard Chaplow and Frazer Richardson would be available but they didn’t make the game.
“I’m sure a lot of football clubs are like that.
“Southampton Football Club should be able to deal with that.
“We’ve had some development players we could get involved and the players on the field I thought there was enough out there to try and get something.”
He added: “You never want to use anything like that as an excuse, let alone at this football club.”
There were ironic cheers for Adkins, whose side were booed off at half and full time, when he did make his change.
But with a bench that included youngsters such as Oscar Gobern, Harlee Dean and Ryan Doble – the latter pair having never played a senior game for Saints – it was the lack of depth in the squad that was exposed.
“You are looking at different things and trying to understand situations,” he said.
“We changed the shape and put (Alex) Chamberlain up the top to try and change things that way and he had four opportunities to score I counted in the first half and then the second half.
“You try and move things round a bit and David Connolly has just come back from an injury and Rickie started to struggle with his.
“We tried to get Guly to play on the full back so we could change play from one wing to the other.
“It’s fair to say you would like a Richardson, a Chaplow, a Barnard and Fonte was suspended, but we’ve got to know we can deal with that.”
Adkins continued: “We had a discussion in the dressing room because today wasn’t acceptable.
“We had a good ten days training, really good, and there was a good feeling about the place, but it’s what you do on a Saturday that matters.
“Credit to Brentford, their centre forwards dominated us and did very well and as a team they worked very hard.
“Goals change games do they not and the goalkeeper (Richard Lee) pulled a worldie off Guly in the first minute.
“He made three wonderful saves throughout the course of the first half and we could have had a penalty, but goals change games and the one Brentford scored gave them something to work even harder for.
“They scored two goals we’re not happy with at all and that gave us a mountain to climb.
“At 2-0 down you have an opportunity to stay in the game and get something, but we haven’t and that’s the annoying thing.
“You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t work harder than the opposition then you’re always going to be up against it.”