Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino says other players must step up to fill the void left by the injured Jay Rodriguez.
Forward Rodriguez has been ruled out for six months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the first half of last weekend’s defeat at Manchester City.
And Pochettino, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Cardiff City, has challenged the rest of the squad to ensure that the England man’s absence is not felt.
“It’s clear that Jay, since our arrival at Southampton, has been a vital and really important player, but now it’s the turn of other players to step in and take over from him,” the manager told Saints Player.
“We have a short squad and we don’t have a massive amount of players and we’ve sustained quite a few injuries through the season.
“So, in these last few games, a lot of players are going to have opportunities to get some good playing time.”
Pochettino also sent his heartfelt backing to Rodriguez, who is already beginning his recovery at Staplewood ahead of a knee operation in the coming weeks.
“It’s a very serious injury so we’re all very sad, but now we just have to focus on giving him our 100% full support,” said the boss.
“It’s clear that, with his injury being as serious as it is, we have all been suffering with him but right now it’s important that we’re focused on his recovery and his road to getting fit again.
“It’s really hard to know when he’ll be back because every single player reacts in a different way to every single injury,” continued Pochettino.
“Jay has a very strong character and he’s a mentally-strong lad, so he’s going to recover very well.
“What’s important now is that the different phases of his recovery happen as they should and that they are done well so that he’s able to get back to full fitness, so we aren’t really focused on setting timelines for his recovery.”