RALPH Hasenhuttl admitted he cannot remember facing an injury crisis as severe as the one he is currently having to manage at Saints, but insisted he was "not scared" of giving more opportunities to youngsters.

Saints were without nine first-team stars for Tuesday night's FA Cup contest against Shrewsbury Town due to injury, while a further six were left out of the starting XI to keep them fresh for the upcoming schedule.

That saw four players handed their debuts against the League One side with Kegs Chauke and Caleb Watts starting the fixture, while Alex Jankewitz and Ryan Finnigan were introduced from a youthful bench. Young striker Dan N'Lundulu also made his first start for the club up front, scoring in the 2-0 victory.

And while Hasenhuttl hopes that situation will ease over the next two to three weeks, he is still set to call upon a swathe of academy talents to fill the matchday squad against Arsenal in the FA Cup at the weekend.

Asked if he has ever known an injury situation such as this, especially having enjoyed naming a settled side during the early months of the campaign, Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo: "I cannot remember, no. But I also cannot remember that we ever had such a situation like we have at the moment with massive games in the short term, less recovery options here, we cannot use any facilities indoors and no pre-season at all.

"I had never such a situation. This is the reason why I can also not remember having so many problems with injuries."

He added: "Although we have not every player on board, they are coming back hopefully over the next two to three weeks and more and more options then for me are available.”

Saints are set to be boosted this weekend by the return of Danny Ings after the striker recovered from coronavirus.

However, Moussa Djenepo, Nathan Redmond, Oriol Romeu, Mohammed Salisu, Jannik Vestergaard and Nathan Tella are all unlikely to return in time to face the Gunners, while Will Smallbone and Michael Obafemi have been ruled out for the long-term.

Asked if he has enjoyed seeing how his promising youngsters have responded to being thrust into first-team action, Hasenhuttl said: "I don’t enjoy having so many injured players to be honest! It would be easier for me to stick to one team and go with this one team through all the games.

"But if you have to replace somebody, it should never be a big issue because for the short-term it must be always possible to replace him. For the long-term, you definitely lose quality, this is no question.

"There is a reason why some players are worth 30 or 40 million and others are just coming up. There must be a difference.

"But in the end it must be always possible to replace players for a short-term and this is what we have to do with the young ones. I am not scared of giving them a chance and winning games with them."

Discussing the impact of the youngsters against Shrewsbury, Hasenhuttl added: "I don’t want to hang it too high because against a League One team it must be able for us to put them in and that they are performing well I think.

"It’s different in the Premier League. It’s always difficult to step in a Premier League team for a young player. The level is very high, but we have a few good lads who are good guys.

"They have potential and I think we are one of the clubs in the Premier League who gives the most young players the chance to make their debut in the Premier League in the past.

"This is our history and we will try to push them and we will try to develop them as quick as possible, because they are the future for us."