BOSS Ralph Hasenhuttl revealed he left out Danny Ings, Takumi Minamino and Moussa Djenepo from his starting XI at Leeds to protect them from the risk of injury.

The Saints manager opted to make three changes from his side that drew 1-1 with Chelsea on Saturday, benching the trio in place of Stuart Armstrong, Nathan Tella and Che Adams.

Despite introducing Ings, Minamino and Djenepo from the bench, an abject second-half display meant Leeds were able to power to a 3-0 success at Elland Road.

Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas and the lively Raphinha were all on target in west Yorkshire, condemning Saints to their seventh loss in eight league contests.

Asked about leaving out Ings, Minamino and Djenepo from his starting XI, Hasenhuttl said: “I mean, we could let them play from the beginning and then we have the same problem that we have in the past – that we play until they are injured, yeah? We can do this also.

“Then they are out for four, five or six weeks and then we have no alternatives anymore.

“So now I try to rotate a little bit more because after their injuries it’s normal they cannot play three games in a week – this is the problem we have at the moment.

“By the way, I must say Nathan Tella did a good job in the first half. He was the biggest threat in our attacking and he did it quite well.

“He had a big chance where he could score – he had the penalty situation, so I was not unhappy with him.”

Hasenhuttl’s side have been ravaged with injuries during the past two months.

They have 13 top-flight fixtures remaining in their campaign, as well as an FA Cup quarter-final at AFC Bournemouth on March 20.

“Sure, not everything is perfect but it is better to rotate at the moment and save some players. Ingsy, Moussa, who had a lot of work to do against Chelsea,” added the manager.

“Taki Minamino didn’t play for half a year one game all 90 minutes I think – now he should play three in a week? This is not possible.

“You can be sure that the next player is injured and this is what we have to take care of at the moment and we have to rotate more.”