Southampton manager Claude Puel confirms key duo's return to first-team training after injuries

Jude Summerfield
90Min

Southampton manager Claude Puel says first-team duo Charlie Austin and Matt Targett have returned to training following injuries.

Austin has been sidelined since playing 39 minutes in a Europa League tie against Hapoel Beer Sheva in December, being substituted with a shoulder injury. He remains Southampton's joint-highest scorer in the Premier League alongside Nathan Redmond with six goals, highlighting his importance for the Saints.

Southampton FC v Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC - UEFA Europa League


 

Targett last played in October during the 3-1 win over Burnley, being substituted in the 16th minute after picking up a hamstring injury. Both players have missed plenty of football this season but Puel revealed the pair are closing in on first-team returns after featuring in training recently.

"Charlie Austin came back in a training session with the group on Saturday, Targett came back also in the training session," Puel revealed.

 

The news is a huge boost for Southampton, who are looking to secure a top-half finish in the Premier League. They are currently ninth but teams as low as 16th still have a slight chance of usurping the Saints and securing a good finish.


Southampton v Burnley - Premier League

Puel's side currently have 40 points while 16th-placed Burnley, who themselves are five points ahead of relegation-threatened Swansea, are just four behind Southampton. Finishing any higher may be a struggle for Southampton, with West Brom currently four points ahead of the south coast side.

Southampton do have two games in hand on their top 10 rivals, however, although they are still yet to play some of the Premier League's best sides. They travel to Chelsea on Tuesday evening but still face matches against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

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