'We have a solution with Jay Rodriguez or Shane Long' - Claude Puel wants Southampton to be more clinical
Claude Puel has challenged his Southampton side to be more clinical in front of goal ahead of their midweek Premier League clash against in-form Crystal Palace.
Saints were held to a goalless draw against Bournemouth on Saturday after missing numerous chances to claim all three points. After that result, the Frenchman insisted that his side's lacklustre performance was due to tiredness following the international break.
Despite scoring 11 goals in their last five games, Puel believes his side will need to be at their best if they are to overcome a resurgent Palace side.
"It's important now to find a good balance, to find a clinical edge because we haven't scored in the last game," the Southampton manager said.
"Against Sunderland, Watford we found a good clinical (edge). All of this is interesting, all the team took confidence. It's important to have a good feeling about this. We have a solution with Jay Rodriguez or Shane Long. It's important to have a good feeling with all the players. You can score the first goal after the team can take confidence and it's better for the next."
Sam Allardyce's Palace side have won four games on the trot, including their shock 2-1 victory over leaders Chelsea last weekend.
Southampton currently occupy 10th position in the table but the six teams below them are within three points.
Wednesday's opponents Palace, who lie in 16th place, are one of those sides breathing down the necks of the Saints. But with two games in hand, Puel is confident his team can withhold the chasing pack and solidify a top 10 spot.
He said: "I think it is important to stay with a good concentration. We have a seven-point advantage (over the bottom three) and its important to keep improving. We have two games in hand also. We play at home and it's important to find a good clinical (performance) against this team (Crystal Palace). We know it's a difficult challenge and we like this challenge.
"For the moment, it's important we take points because one win or one loss can make a difference in the table. All of the teams are together like Bournemouth, Palace and West Brom who are in front of us."
Meanwhile, Puel is hopeful striker Manolo Gabbiadini will make a return to action for their clash against Manchester City next Saturday.
Gabbiadini missed the Bournemouth game after suffering a groin injury prior to the international break.
Having arrived at St Mary's on January transfer deadline day, the former Napoli frontman hit the ground running with five goals in his first four starts before sustaining an injury in the early stages of their defeat at Tottenham.
The 25-year-old will miss their midweek game against Palace and Puel confirmed that the forward has taken part in light training. but the Frenchman, however, did not want to solely focus on the possible time for Gabbiadini's return.
"He has started to run but cannot, for the moment, make the full training session with the squad," said Puel..
"I hope (he can be back) the next week and if he cannot participate and stay available, we will wait for the next game against Manchester City. He is an important player for us but for now I prefer speaking about Jay (Rodriguez) or Shane (Long) because now they are the important players for us."