Belfast Telegraph

Alderweireld back in Saints squad

Defender Toby Alderweireld is expected to return to the Southampton squad for Tuesday's Barclays Premier League match against Crystal Palace after a hamstring problem.

Manager Ronald Koeman reported no fresh injury concerns.

Forwards Jay Rodriguez (knee) and Emmanuel Mayuka (groin) remain out.

Koeman accepts his side must quickly regain a ruthless edge in attack but insists all is not yet lost in their bid to secure European football.

The Saints went down 1-0 at West Brom on Saturday to suffer a third defeat in the last five Barclays Premier League matches.

During that run, Koeman's side have failed to find the net in the previous three, which have seen them draw 0-0 at home to West Ham before being beaten 2-0 by Liverpool.

The Dutchman, though, remains confident the players can produce the required response to move them back up closer to the top four.

"The last few games have been a bit a difficult, but we had a difficult period also in the beginning of December and the players' reaction was fantastic after that, and I expect the same reaction in the last 11 games," Koeman said at a press conference.

"It is no issue to watch back what happened in the last few games, we were struggling to score goals, but still we play out of a good organisation.

"However, in an attacking way, we still have to improve ourselves, that is the question.

"It is close to being like in the beginning of the season, still we are creating, but maybe we need to be a bit more ruthless and confident in the box, but it is a team question, not an individual one, and we need everybody to do the last part of attacking in a better way then we did in the last few games."

Koeman added: "We are still in a high position of the table, and that is the focus of the players.

"If we win five of (our last) 11 games, that means 61 points and that, in my opinion, would be enough for European football."

Koeman insists there has never been any bravado from the Saints over their hopes of sustaining a top-four place over the course of the campaign.

He said: "To talk about that is a misunderstanding, because I never talked of reaching Champions League football. If we win seven or eight of 11, then maybe we will be fourth in the league, but I realise it is very difficult because we have to beat some big teams and that is not easy."

Striker Graziano Pelle has not scored a league goal since before Christmas, but Koeman feels that is as much down to the opposition defensive set-up as his own side's form in the penalty area.

"One of the reasons is that now the other sides know the strengths of our team," the Dutchman said.

"If you look back to the West Brom game and you see the way how they played at home against Southampton, that is a big compliment for us, watch how Liverpool played against us, not with three at the back, but with five at the back.

"That means it is more difficult to create, then you need the total confidence of the players, if the strikers are a bit more struggling for goals, then it is a big part of our problem in the past few games."

Palace knocked Southampton out of the FA Cup with a 3-2 win at St Mary's during January, and Koeman added: "We know what to expect of them and they have had a good run in away games in recent weeks, they are strong on the set-pieces and have a good organisation.

"Palace are a very dangerous team at the moment and we will have to be good to have a good result."

Crystal Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak has been charged with violent conduct for elbowing West Ham's Diafra Sakho, the Football Association has announced.

Jedinak struck Sakho in the face as the pair jumped for a header towards the end of Palace's 3-1 win at Upton Park on Saturday but referee Mike Dean took no action.

The incident was not seen by the match officials but it was caught on video, allowing the FA to take retrospective action. Jedinak has until 6pm on Tuesday to respond to the charge.

An FA statement read: "Mile Jedinak has been charged for an alleged act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video.

"The Crystal Palace midfielder was involved in an incident with West Ham United's Diafra Sakho in the 87th minute of the game on Saturday (28 February 2015).

"Off the ball incidents in Premier League matches which are not seen at the time by the match officials are referred to a panel of three former elite referees.

"Each panel member will review the video footage independently of one another to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence.

"For retrospective action to be taken, the decision by the panel must be unanimous.

"Jedinak has until 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday, March 3) to reply to the charge."

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