SAINTS boss Russell Martin claimed midfielder Will Smallbone's injury is not expected to keep him sidelined for a long period.

The Irishman was left out of the squad for Saturday's 2-0 win against Cardiff City at St Mary's but Martin thinks that he should be "back in the squad" for the trip to Watford next week.

The 23 year old started the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town on November 25, before he was a late substitute in the 1-0 victory over Bristol City on Wednesday.

Speaking at his post-match press conference, the Saints boss explained: "He pulled out of the Ireland squad because he had a bit of an injury.

"He then played the first game back (against Huddersfield) because he felt in a good place. It set him back a little bit.

"On Wednesday, he felt like he could be on the bench and play but then when he came on, he felt that it affected his performance too much."

Despite Smallbone's absence, Saints put in a commanding display in front of their home fans with Adam Armstrong's first-half double the difference between the sides.

Shea Charles was again selected in midfield along with Flynn Downes and Stuart Armstrong, and Cardiff struggled to cope with the trio's quality.

Martin insisted that Smallbone has been given some time off so that his injury can settle ahead of a busy Championship schedule.

He continued: "It would have then been madness to keep him on the bench or put him in the team.

"We are giving him a week or 10 days to settle down. I think and I hope that he will be back in the squad next week."