SAINTS are a weaker team at the back without Mohammed Salisu according to Ralph Hasenhuttl – with the Austrian calling upon his side to show an improvement defensively.

A summer signing from Real Valladolid in 2020, Salisu missed his first Premier League game of the season last time out due to suspension, meaning the Ghanaian had to watch on as Arsenal beat Saints 3-0.

With no clean sheets and 12 goals conceded in the previous five fixtures, the return of the 22-year-old may not be enough to change Saints' fortunes at the back, with Hasenhuttl expecting better team performances in their own half.

It appears Salisu will be straight back into the side for the trip to Crystal Palace tomorrow (7.30pm), with Hasenhuttl stating: "Our defending in and around the box has to be improving, because in the last game, we were definitely not there where we have to be and it made it much easier for them to score.

"Sali was missing, so when he comes back it helps massively because he is a very, very good centre-back for me, in my opinion. He has done a good job this season and we had five clean sheets, which was above average I think.

"But we have made a few other mistakes also. When we press high, we have to know that three or four passes can happen, but then the fifth we should win and stay on the front foot, and in the last game not every player has done this.

"It is not the only way to defend, sometimes you have to defend a little bit deeper in and around the box and then we have not been man-oriented enough in the box, and this is what we have to change.

“It is not always about shape, it is very often about the behaviour in a special situation and we have to be very critical with ourselves and hopefully we show a good reaction on Wednesday.”

Saints’ defensive shape will also be boosted by the return of Oriol Romeu, who also missed the Arsenal fixture due to suspension. Romeu had started the previous 15 league games for Saints, captaining the side twice against Leeds and Burnley.