BOSS Ralph Hasenhuttl said Michael Obafemi earned his return to Saints’ first team after a solid week of work in training.

The Republic of Ireland international came off the bench for the final 24 minutes of the St Mary’s side’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.

Obafemi had played just once in the Premier League this season before being introduced to the action at Anfield.

He had been sidelined after undergoing surgery on a muscle problem, which scuppered a reported loan move to Swansea back in January.

Asked about the 20-year-old’s comeback, manager Hasenhuttl replied: “He trained quite well this week and this is the reason I wanted to give him a chance.

“With his speed he is always a threat, I think.

“He had one good moment I think where, if he’s a little bit earlier there, then he can maybe get a penalty.

“I am happy that he is fit. He worked quite hard in his rehab and hopefully he stays fit.”

Obafemi had played 45 minutes for Dave Horseman’s B team against Everton in Premier League Two a week previously, before making his return to the senior side.

He could once again be involved when Saints host Crystal Palace in the top flight on Tuesday.