RALPH Hasenhuttl has given an update on the fitness of his squad ahead of the visit to Manchester City on Saturday, revealing that: “(Theo) Walcott and Stuart Armstrong are still out.”

Some positive team news is that Will Smallbone and Shane Long have both returned to first team training, the former after suffering a serious ACL injury back in January.

Meanwhile, Long was out after testing positive for Covid-19 whilst away on international duty, and both return to the fold with the EFL Cup trip to Championship side Sheffield United coming midweek.

But the Austrian boss has moved to offer a negative update too, confirming that Walcott and Armstrong – who hasn’t featured since the start of the season – will both miss out again.

Speaking ahead of the match, Hasenhuttl said: "The positive is that Will Smallbone is in team sessions now and he is looking really good.”

"Longy (Shane Long) is also back. However, (Theo) Walcott and Stuart Armstrong are still out and this will take some time.

"They are only muscle problems, less intense ones. I think it will not take that long until they are back, so they are not big muscle problems, just smaller ones.

"But at the moment we have also the alternatives, so don't take a risk and not to push them too hard to come back.

“Yes, and also with Stu with the calf. There is a bit of blood still in there and it will take a few more days, maybe one or two weeks to come back.

“But we give him the time he needs.”

The Scot was named on the bench for the opening day visit to Everton, but didn’t make it onto the pitch and then a calf injury, that was originally described as minor, has rendered him out since.

Walcott, on the other hand, started both of the opening two Premier League fixtures but was hooked at half-time of the Manchester United contest, with defender Jan Bednarek replacing him as Hasenhuttl opted for a change in shape.

Saints kick off vs Manchester City up next in the Premier League on Saturday 18 September, at 3pm.