SHANE Long looks set to be asked to shoulder the goalscoring burden in the coming days with Saints facing a striker shortage.

Charlie Austin’s two-game ban has hit Saints hard with Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi also ruled out with hamstring problems and Manolo Gabbiadini having completed his £12m move to Sampdoria.

Sam Gallagher has returned to training but is not fully fit and unlikely to be risked from the start against Leicester this afternoon.

The only other option for Saints is 22-year-old Marcus Barnes who the club have now registered in their Premier League squad having been left out when the lists were submitted after the summer transfer window.

It all conspires to leave Long as the only experienced and fit senior striker available for today’s game at the King Power stadium, and for the FA Cup replay against Derby on Wednesday night.

Long has not scored in his last 21 Saints appearances, a run which stretches back to April 2018.

However, he might well carry the weight of goalscoring expectation on his shoulders.

Ralph Hasenhuttl had been planning to use Austin today with the club optimistic that the striker would get a fine and a warning from The FA rather than a two-match suspension.

Indeed, Hasenhuttl even spoke about how best to use Austin in the coming weeks.

He said: “I think Charlie has a fantastic finish.

“When he has a chance it’s normally a goal, except the chance against Man City after six or seven minutes, but normally if he’s in the box he has a fantastic finish.

“Our goal has to be to bring him in this position.

“I know that he has sometimes a little problem with our high pressing and intensive runs against the ball. It’s not what he likes a lot and not something he likes to do all the time.

“If he has a chance he is so important for us because it’s mainly a goal.

“For me it’s always the question to find the right decision when I put him on the pitch.

“From the beginning sometimes it’s necessary and if I bring him for 30 minutes he is fresh and he can maybe bring his pressure more on the game and sometimes that’s a better decision for me.”

Hasenhuttl insisted that Austin is no different to any other player in his squad and is being asked to adapt his game to suit the new style.

“Everyone has to do it since I am here,” insisted Hasenhuttl.

“Some do it a little quicker and others a little longer, but when I feel the intention to do then it’s ok. The willingness to adapt the game in our way then I give them the chance to do so.”

But it not looks up to Long to lead the line against a Leicester team reeling from an FA Cup exit at the hands of Newport County.

“If you start well and get in front maybe the atmosphere is not so good but that’s not really interesting me,” said Hasenhuttl of today’s game.

“They are well prepared and know that we will give everything we have to take some points there.

“It’s not so easy so the atmosphere doesn’t interest me. It’s all about how we do it and how quick we are in our match plan.

“If we are compact and an organised team like we were against Chelsea every team we can do well against.”