SAINTS have produced some brilliant results and excellent performances this season so far.

The draw at Manchester City and win over Inter Milan stand-out among the top displays.

In their opening 17 matches, Saints have edged towards qualification to the Europa League knockout stages and laid a solid foundation in the Premier League.

But it hasn’t been all rosy for Saints.

You can probably discount those early draws at home to Sunderland and Watford, because it was too early to make a judgement.

Not a lot has gone wrong for Saints, but that defeat at Hull last Sunday was worrying and what many feared when Saints qualified for the Europa League.

They should have won at the Tigers but they didn’t kill the game.

That cost them three very vital Premier League points.

With the Europa League comes two games every four days.

Something that Puel has managed carefully.

And up until the Hull defeat, it had all gone fairly swimmingly.

A brilliant display at Manchester City followed the Inter Milan loss at the San Siro and a goalless draw at Leicester City, which should have been a win, followed the draw at Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

However, the emotion and the elation of winning at home to Inter Milan had clearly taken its toll on Saints at Hull.

They took the lead but let it go against one of the poorest teams in the league.

Saints dominated at Hull. They should have scored more. They should have been dispatched.

But it didn’t happen.

Partly it didn’t happen because of the lack of incisiveness in front of goal.

Charlie Austin is relied upon too much for goals.

Nobody else is really scoring. Nathan Redmond has netted three times, but really there’s nobody else scoring goals.

And that is a problem.

They sold off nearly 30 goals in Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane in the summer but haven’t truly replaced them.

That will catch up with them.

They can’t afford to drop points like they did at Hull.

The problem really lies in Puel’s options in attack.

He needs another one, ideally.

At the KCOM Stadium you were missing Shane Long. He’s a big miss. He’s an absolute nightmare to play against.

But he has yet to score for his club this season. He did brilliantly to drum up a healthy return of goals last term, but he’s never going to be prolific.

Jay Rodriguez is yet to rediscover his form, while Sofiane Boufal is still an unknown quantity. He banged in that quality goal against Sunderland and he could be that goal-scoring option.

But at this stage he’s not.

There’s an amazing stat that Dusan Tadic has created among the most chances of any Premier League player, but yet doesn’t have an assist.

Does that not scream something? Does that not scream Saints need a striker?

It really does scream that.

In losing Pelle you’ve lost a target man.

It is all well and good playing this wonderful possession build-up play, and creating chances, but you NEED someone to finish them off.

If Austin isn’t fit or Puel’s puts him on the bench, nobody else scores for Saints – because Saints haven’t replaced Pelle.

It might sound a bit old hat to have a big striker on the bench to use as a plan B, but that’s what Saints need.

Bringing on Jay Rod and Boufal is all well and good, but when the chips are down and Saints need to go for the long ball and nick a goal that might mean so much come the end of the season, they are not up to it.

A target man is needed.

It was fairly obvious as the transfer window shut that this was the case. Social media was awash with fans bellowing that Saints needed a striker.

But Austin got them out of jail a bit. He’s netted some very important goals.

He needs help, however. In January Saints must act or risk more Hulls.