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World Cup 2018

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Mauricio Pellegrino: Southampton's goal problem lies solely in final-third play

Mauricio Pellegrino has insisted tinkering with formations will not end Southampton's goal struggles.

Saints have struck just four goals in six Premier League matches and boss Pellegrino remains adamant the problem lies solely in final-third play.

The former Liverpool coach has admitted he will look to employ a 3-5-2 formation against certain teams this term - but maintained that adding an extra striker is no quick-fix to Saints' scoring shortcomings.

Portugal defender Cedric Soares this week cited Saints' overlapping full-backs as one route to helping pull opponents apart, but Pellegrino continues to challenge his players to deliver goals, whatever the formation.

"I'm not sure that would improve us or that we'd score more goals with three centre-backs," said Pellegrino.

"That formation is something I have liked to do with past teams.

"But it's not just dependent on the feeling of the manager, it depends how the players are of course. In some games I will try this formation.

"But being better in the final third, it's not about more strikers, wingers or pushing the full-backs higher - it's just about quality in the final third."

Italy forward Manolo Gabbiadini has scored just one goal in his last 14 Premier League appearances, while - despite being back in favour - Shane Long has drawn a blank in five outings so far this term.

Pellegrino praised Long's recent build-up play, but called on his players to sharpen up when it matters most.

"Goals complete your job as a striker, and I can highlight all of them," said Pellegrino.

"We need all our offensive players to be better in the final third.

"Shane is always a hard worker, he's a guy that's improving, and that's something that for us is really important.

"He's the type of player that can keep the ball, challenge in aerial play, two or three seconds you need to go forward."

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