Sunday 28 May 2017

Claude Puel challenges all Southampton players to chip in with goals

Claude Puel, pictured, does not want to put Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long under pressure to score goals
Claude Puel, pictured, does not want to put Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long under pressure to score goals

Southampton manager Claude Puel will not put pressure on forwards Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long to score more goals in the absence of injured striker Manolo Gabbiadini.

Mid-table Saints host in-from Crystal Palace at home on Wednesday on the back of Saturday's goalless home draw against Bournemouth - a match Italy forward Gabbiadini missed through an injury sustained before the international break.

Having arrived at St Mary's on the final day of the January transfer window, the former Napoli frontman hit the ground running with five goals in his first four starts before picking up a groin injury in the early stages of the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham on March 19.

With fellow striker Charlie Austin also sidelined, Rodriguez and Long were given the task of leading the line for Puel's side last weekend against the Cherries.

The pair drew a blank, but Puel has stressed the importance of not piling pressure on his depleted front line, and challenged every member of his squad to chip in with goals.

"For a striker, it's always important to score, but I don't want to put them under pressure with an obligation to score," the Frenchman said. "It's important they can do good work for their team-mates.

"In different situations they can have different opportunities to score, but it's not just important for strikers to score.

"I think we have improved since the beginning of the season. Many players can score in the team, sometimes for the first time, and I said it's important all of the players in the team can score - not just the strikers. It's important to continue this work.

"Of course, (Steven) Davis, (James) Ward-Prowse, (Nathan) Redmond, different players - defenders in set-pieces - can score. It's important to create danger with many opportunities with different players."

Midfielder Sofiane Boufal is doubtful for the clash after he pulled a leg muscle in training on Monday. The Moroccan will be assessed ahead of the midweek game at St Mary's.

Defender Martin Caceres could make his debut for Puel's side after reaching full match fitness for the first time since joining the Saints in February.

Press Association

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