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'Horrible' cruciate blow for Smallbone puts Saints star out for season

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Photo: Reuters

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Photo: Reuters

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Photo: Reuters

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that Irish prospect Will Smallbone will miss the rest of this season, and spend at least six months on the sideline, after a "horrible" injury.

The club confirmed that Smallbone (20) had torn his anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday's Premier League defeat to Leicester City.

"We have another big injury with Will Smallbone. It's the worst for him and for us, an ACL injury, so half a year out, maybe," Hasenhuttl said. "It's horrible for the young lad and for us."

The injury is a huge blow to Smallbone, who qualifies for Ireland through his Kilkenny-born mother, as he was likely to get a long run in an injury-hit Saints side.

His start last Saturday was only his third Premier League outing of the season and his first since September, as he had battled his way back from a quad injury.

Smallbone was also set to see international progress this year, with possible promotion from the U-21s to Stephen Kenny's senior squad.

Meanwhile, League One side MK Dons have prepared for the departure of former Ireland defender Richard Keogh by signing Dublin-born loan star Warren O'Hora from Brighton on a permanent basis. And that will lead to a significant cash injection for O'Hora's previous club Bohemians, who are entitled to a slice of the €150,000 fee.

Season-ending

Keogh only joined MK Dons last summer, after a difficult end to his time at Derby County, which saw the defender sustain a season-ending knee injury in a car crash where two of his Derby team-mates pleaded guilty to drink-driving offences while the club also took disciplinary action against Keogh, though he was not driving at the time of the incident.

But the 34-year-old impressed at Milton Keynes and the club have reluctantly accepted an offer from Championship side Huddersfield Town, with the deal due to be completed in the next 24 hours.

"I understand his desire to go and play at that level again, and he wants to have another go at it. And his other motivations because of what happened at his previous club. I'm not going to attack Richard at all," said Dons manager Russell Martin as he prepared for Keogh's departure.

"It hurts, we're disappointed and we're losing a very good player."

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest confirmed that former Ireland international Andy Reid had been appointed as manager of their U-23 side on a permanent basis, and as a result he has left his position as Ireland U-18s manager.

In other transfer news, Irish U-21 cap Simon Power has joined League Two side Harrogate from Norwich.

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