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Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes a near fully-fit squad can boost Southampton

Earlier in the campaign, the Saints briefly topped the Premier League.


Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes to see his options improved for the final weeks of the campaign (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes to see his options improved for the final weeks of the campaign (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes to see his options improved for the final weeks of the campaign (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes a near fully-fit squad can help his side finish the campaign in the same style they started it when domestic action resumes against Burnley on Easter Sunday.

Top-scorer Danny Ings returned to full training over the international break as he closes in on his comeback from a leg problem.

Theo Walcott is also in contention to feature against the Clarets following a thigh issue which sidelined him since the end of January.

Captain James Ward-Prowse returned early from international duty with England because of a calf problem, but is expected to be involved to continue his long run of consecutive appearances.

Earlier in the campaign, Hasenhuttl’s well-drilled team briefly topped the Premier League following an impressive run of form.

However, since beating Liverpool on January 4, Southampton have managed just one more league victory, at bottom club Sheffield United, with 10 defeats.

While reaching the FA Cup semi-finals has offset those results to a degree, Hasenhuttl knows consistency is key over the closing weeks of a campaign which had promised so much.

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“With the guys that have been here (during the international break), we could work on a few things we wanted to and bring them to a better shape,” the Southampton boss said.

“As soon as the injured players are coming back, you normally have more quality and more options for your game plan, this will help us.

“We know these next two Premier League games are important to take good results and we know we have to have a very good performance.

“We can look forward to these games because we have shown we are on the way back to the way we played before this not so successful time.”

Hasenhuttl added: “It is not only about having them back, it is also about how we want to act, and what makes us strong.

“I think we have shown in the FA Cup against Bournemouth, OK only a Championship team, but even there we have shown what made us strong and how we can play.

“We expect a much tougher game now against Burnley, but (we must have) the same behaviours and same effort, then we have a chance to win against them.”

Burnley won at Everton before the international break, and have lost just once in the last six, with four draws.

Hasenhuttl said: “This team is one of the teams you have to have a good performance if you want to win against them.

“They are always good, organised, always strong. Every team is struggling against them. They had some good results this season again.

“We know about their good automatism, also with the ball they have good development in the team playing very straight football.

“I am a fan from what they are doing with the options they have in the club. They took the maximum out of it and so big praise for them and for the manager.”

England boss Gareth Southgate will name his squad for Euro 2020 at the end of May, and already confirmed he was “not far away” from knowing his best 23.

Hasenhuttl feels Ward-Prowse has all the qualities needed to make the final cut.

“In general it shouldn’t make a difference if somebody is coming from a smaller club, like we are, rather than if he is coming from a bigger club,” the Southampton boss said.

“A player like him who has showed in the Premier League how strong he is and with his qualities with set-pieces, I would always take him if I’m honest.

“If I needed him in the last 10 minutes for a free-kick and scoring a goal, I would always take such a player in my squad.”

Saints striker Che Adams marked his Scotland call-up with a goal in the 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands .

“I saw the game and he did a good job,” Hasenhuttl said of the 24-year-old. “Also they have a good chance to go maybe to the World Cup, so it was a good first step for him.”

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