Saints are facing the challenging prospect of a three-week stint without a fixture in their battle to beat the drop.

Watford’s FA Cup fifth round win against QPR means that their game against Saints at Vicarage Road on Saturday, March 16, will have to be postponed as the Hornets will be in quarter-final action.

That was due to be Saints’ last game before a two-week international break.

The postponement will mean that after Saints play Tottenham at St Mary’s on March 9, they will not have another match until they travel to Brighton for what looks like a crucial fixture on March 30.

Such a long hiatus will be extremely difficult for Ralph Hasenhuttl to manage, especially given he cannot even structure a mini pre-season as he will lose a large number of senior players for the last fortnight of it.

Also, Saints have generally not performed very well after enforced breaks from action so far this season.

Returning from four blank weekends due to international fixtures or a lack of cup games, Saints have yet to win with three draws and a defeat to their name.

They will be attempting to improve that statistic when they come back after another free weekend to take on Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.

Hasenhuttl has tried to make the most of this latest gap by taking the team away for warm weather training in Tenerife.

The game against Gunners marks the start of a quick-fire four game period before what looks likely to be the three-week break.

After the Arsenal match, Saints host Fulham at St Mary’s before travelling to Manchester United and then welcoming Spurs to the south coast.

The scheduling for the rearranged Watford game will also be important.

It looks very difficult to get the game played any earlier.

Both of the previous weeks have European fixtures, and Premier League matches are not meant to clash with these UEFA dates.

That would, therefore, result in the game having to be slotted into a midweek in the heart of the run-in.

That would give Saints less preparation time for the match and also less recovery ahead of whatever the next fixture would be.

Saints at least don’t have to worry about the same thing happening on the weekend of the FA Cup semi-finals.

They are due to take place on the weekend on April 6, when Saints are playing Liverpool at St Mary’s with the Reds having been knocked out by Wolves.