Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes Oriol Romeu return helps Saints finish with a flourish

Southampton v Aston Villa – Premier League – St Mary’s Stadium
(Image credit: Michael Steele)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes the return of key midfielder Oriol Romeu can help the club finish on a positive note as they prepare to welcome Leeds.

Spaniard Romeu has been out of action since February with an ankle problem which needed surgery and could have ended his campaign.

However, the 29-year-old has resumed training and could be in contention to feature against Leeds on Tuesday night at St Mary’s Stadium.

The Saints briefly topped the Premier League earlier in the campaign, but suffered a slump in form as injuries mounted and dropped down the table.

Hasenhuttl’s squad have regrouped following their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Leicester, recording successive victories in the last two games.

The Austrian hopes to make the most of the final run of league matches to set the club up for a positive summer recruitment drive.

“It’s important for us to to show our better face in the final games of the season, that helps us definitely for maybe ending up in a (higher) position and also having a better pre-season,” Hasenhuttl said.

“It feels good that all players are coming back, that we have not seen as many injuries any more and that definitely gives us more quality.

“We know that we had a tough second half of the season, and we also knew the reason why this happens.

“Now we can show that whenever players are coming back and everybody is fit again, that we can do it much better than the weeks before.

“There are four wins in a row possible and this is the goal we have.”

Hasenhuttl added: “Oriol has an opportunity to play. We must handle it carefully, but I would like to have him in the squad, even on the bench.

Southampton v Aston Villa – Premier League – St Mary’s Stadium

Oriol Romeu could be in contention (Michael Steele/PA)

“We must have a look at how his body reacts after training today, then we can make a decision.

“After such a long break, I think there is not a risk with his injury – this is good so far and it more depends how fit he is.”

Hasenhuttl confirmed defender Jan Bednarek would be available again after shaking off a minor heel issue.

Forward Danny Ings, who scored twice in the win over Crystal Palace, was taken off against Fulham just as a precaution to manage his own return to full fitness.

Southampton will be able to welcome supporters back to St Mary’s as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, with around 8,000 expected to attend.

Hasenhuttl said: “There is no question that football is nothing without fans.

Southampton v Manchester United – Premier League – St Mary’s

Southampton fans will be hoping to mark their return to St Mary’s with a win (Mark Kerton/PA)

“It was too long now missing them and we are really happy that we can get 8,000 now.

“It will be an amazing atmosphere tomorrow I think, because 8,000 is a huge number.

“I think last time we had 2,000 and there was also a very good feeling, so 8,000 will be massive for us and a good first step so as not to overload us.

“This is a special moment for every player and especially when you start it with a home game, it can definitely push you.”

Hasenhuttl added: “It is a completely different situation if you win a game and then celebrate together with the fans or you walk in the dressing room and that’s it.

“So it is definitely something completely different. It will really also put on the pitch a different stress situation because it is louder, it is more noisy.

“I hope that we get the support from them that helps us to be in the end physically stronger than the opponent.”

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