Steve Wigley is facing an untimely injury crisis going into his most important game as Saints head coach.

However, amid all mounting problems for Saturday's crunch St Mary's clash with Manchester City, there is a glimmer of light with Matt Oakley easing his way back into training.

Fellow long-term absentees Michael Svensson, Marian Pahars and Jason Dodd are still some way from fitness while there are fresh worries over Claus Lundekvam, Yoann Folly and Paul Smith.

Lundekvam is hopeful of being fit for Saturday after twisting his right ankle but Folly looks likely to have to undergo knee surgery after a scan showed a possible minor cartilage tear.

Second choice keeper Smith is out for around two months following surgery on his thumb while Leandre Griffit is still unavailable as he recovers from a knee problem.

This leaves Wigley down to the bare bones going into the City game - and this is before any consideration is given to the fact that Brett Ormerod and Jo Tessem are both out on loan and Fabrice Fernandes faces an uncertain future with sentencing due in his court case for dangerous driving next week.

Dodd has been out since the opening game of the season at Aston Villa with a persistent back problem that has still not settled down enough to allow him to train and will continue to prevent him from doing so for at least another three weeks.

Svensson will not return until the New Year after a second knee operation and, speaking of Pahars and his ankle injury, Wigley said: "With Marian, we seem to go two steps forward and one step back.

"He saw a specialist last week and we thought he would resume full training, but he's had a slight setback and, until he sees a specialist, we can't know the full extent."

It is better news for Oakley, however, who has already had one setback on the road to recovery from a knee injury that has kept him out for a year so far.

But, with a fortnight until full training can be resumed if all goes well, it means a return to the reserve team is unrealistic for at least another month.

Wigley said: "Matt joined in with us last Monday and, at the minute, we're limiting it to one session of football and one running.

"That's going along quite nicely and we feel he's got a lot more strength back in the leg.

"That was one of the problems as the actual muscle definition was down a little bit, and that's important.

"He's worked ex-tensively on that and his legs to compensate for the injury and now he's nearer to being in full training.

"But he's got a bit to go to be honest. You're looking at after the international break, because we'll be able to use this time to put some work in.

"Matt offers us something totally different - he is a quality player. The sooner we get him back, it'll strengthen us - no two ways about that."