Belfast Telegraph

Ronald Koeman upbeat as Southampton dealt injury blow

By Staff Reporter

Southampton have been hit by the news that defender Toby Alderweireld will miss up to four weeks with a hamstring strain.

The 25-year-old has been one of Saints' star performers since arriving on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid, seamlessly replacing Dejan Lovren after he joined Liverpool.

Alderweireld has helped Southampton keep the tightest defence in the Premier League, with Sunday's 1-0 win at Manchester United a 10th clean sheet of the campaign.

The Belgium international was replaced by Florin Gardos just 21 minutes into that Old Trafford encounter with a hamstring complaint that will now rule him out for three to four weeks.

Alderweireld's injury is not as serious as first feared but it leaves Southampton light in central defence, given Maya Yoshida is currently away with Japan at the Asian Cup. Saints captain Jose Fonte and Gardos are the only senior centre backs at Ronald Koeman's disposal, meaning the Dutchman may look to make a move this month.

"I don't know (if we need to sign another centre half), we have to speak about that," said Koeman, who can also call upon the inexperienced Jason McCarthy for tonight's FA Cup replay with Ipswich.

"We know that Maya will be away for some weeks. I think we can make some changes to positions in our squad."

Meanwhile, Saints midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has emphasised the club's desire to secure a route into the Champions League.

The United victory saw the south coast side move up to third in the Premier League table, and Schneiderlin said: "We want to put Southampton in the spotlight. That will be a shock for the country and the world.

"We want to reach the Champions League. Hopefully we can do something special."

FA Cup third: Ipswich v Southampton, Portman Road, 7.55pm

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