PAUL STURROCK will be left with an injury-ravaged squad for the remainder of the season.

Michael Svensson, Graeme Le Saux, Rory Delap, Jason Dodd, Marian Pahars, Matthew Oakley and Neil McCann were all missing as Saints were thumped 4-0 by Chelsea on Saturday.

It forced Sturrock to hand a first-team debut to 17-year-old Martin Cranie and the Saints boss isn't expecting any of his injured players to return within the next two weeks.

"I do feel no-one is going to come back from injury between now and the end of the season to strengthen the team, so hopefully the players will be more appreciative of what we are looking for," he said.

"It's been a very difficult week for Southampton, we've had Emergency Ward Ten as far as the players were concerned and I did feel it was appropriate to have a look at different positions and different players."

The injury situation, particularly the effect it has had on the midfield, persuaded Sturrock to move away from Saints' usual 4-4-2 formation in favour of 3-5-2.

"For an hour, generally 'okay' was the word I would use," he said.

"The problem we have had all week is that I was coming here 4-4-2 and then we had two key injuries, Pahars and McCann, so I did feel we had to change something and have a look at something.

"On Saturday morning we sat for about an hour with the players and chatted our way through it.

"We did a system change and people were trying to adapt to the system change and maybe forgot there was a football game to be won.

"But the problem was that I just couldn't put a shape to my midfield four."

Sturrock admits he has now begun the process of searching for players to improve his squad.

"When everyone is fit, we have a very solid unit with good players," he said.

"But you cannot legislate for Dodd, Svensson and Le Saux being out of your back four, then obviously Oakley and Delap in front of your back four.

"You can't legislate when five of your regular players are out and then you have Pahars, who has played the last two games, out.

"But sometimes you learn more losing than winning and I'm aware of areas of the team we have to strengthen."