Claude Puel wants Southampton's players to share the goals around
Claude Puel has urged his Southampton players to start easing the goalscoring burden felt by Charlie Austin.
On Saturday they host Liverpool hoping to respond to two consecutive Premier League defeats prior to the international football break, when had they taken their chances each could have been avoided.
In the second of those at Hull, they led before despite creating a total of 26 chances losing 2-1. On that occasion Austin scored his fifth league goal of the season, just under half their total of 12 from 11 league games.
Southampton were also far from clinical in the 3-1 defeat of Burnley, when they had a 2016/17 Premier League record 34 shots on goal, and with Austin a substitute dominated possession but rarely looked like scoring in the 1-0 loss at Inter Milan.
Frenchman Puel claims his team is the division's third most creative, but is also concerned it is its most wasteful. Further chances are expected to arise against Liverpool, given their defence is yet to convince, but amid the Premier League leaders' fine form he also knows Southampton cannot be so profligate if they are to succeed.
"Charlie is a clinical player," said the Southampton manager, 55, who also believes Austin can earn an England recall. "He's efficient in front of goal, and it's important for the squad. He's also scored many penalties. Always it's important to keep him at a good physical level.
"But I hope other players can score also. It's important other players have the possibility to score: offensive midfielders, defenders from free-kicks. We have a statistic: we are third (in) the number of chances every game, and the least efficient.
"It's a good way to work for my players and to progress on this statistic. They've fought very well, and now it's important to be efficient.
"If we have good results, all of my players can be selected for their international team. (Austin) has the level to be selected (for England). Oriol Romeu (can play for Spain). Or (Sam) McQueen, with the (England) Under-21s. All of my players have the qualities to become international players."
Among those who give Liverpool such a prolific attack - their 30 goals give them a higher total than any other Premier League team - is Sadio Mane, a £34million summer recruit from Southampton.
The past summer was another in which it was feared player sales would lead to Southampton's decline, but in his absence the £10million Nathan Redmond has impressed, and asked about Mane, Puel responded: "Southampton's a different team to a club like Liverpool. They can buy different players with many financial possibilities; it's not the same for us.
"It's important to develop our own players. When a player's performed and gone to another team, it's a good thing for Southampton, because we can take money, buy other young players, and develop these.
"Sometimes it's a disappointment, when a player goes to another club, but it's the philosophy of the club and it's important to respect this. Our work, it's always important to have a good result, but also to make progress with all these young players."