Southampton’s season took a rather sour turn at the weekend, with the news that Charlie Austin will miss up to four months through shoulder surgery.
The striker suffered the injury in last Thursday’s Europa League draw versus Hapoel Be’er Sheva, and Jay Rodriguez filled the void in 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at the weekend.
Austin has netted nine times this term, and with the rest of the squad managing just 14 between them, his importance to the side isn’t to be underestimated.
And aside from Austin’s absence, the Saints could arguably use some fresh legs in the coming months.
Having already played 24 games this term, Southampton have another four fixtures in December, plus at least seven next month, meaning they’ll have played a minimum of 35 matches by the end of January.
But with just a few weeks to go before the transfer window opens, boss Claude Puel shouldn’t have to wait too long to bring in a swift replacement for Austin.
Here are three strikers who could do the job…
This does depend on injuries and the recovery of other Arsenal strikers, but it has been repeatedly mentioned in the press that Arsene Wenger may allow summer signing Lucas Perez to go on-loan in January.
Southampton could offer the Spaniard the consistent first-team football he seeks, and his statistics actually read very well. From nine appearances, Lucas has netted six times and supplied four assists for the Gunners.
A sizeable figure, and with a key eye for goal, the 28-year-old could be a ready-made like-for-like replacement.
It’s evidently clear that Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is never going to be a major first-team option under Jurgen Klopp.
West Ham have been heavily linked with a move for the England international, but there’s no reason Southampton can’t swoop in next month.
While filling in the void during Austin’s absence, even after he returns, one of Sturridge’s assets is his tactical flexibility – even if Klopp may not think so – and Saints’ fans would argue it’s about time they turned the tide of transfer activity between St Mary’s and Anfield.
The continued saga of Saido Berahino is set for its latest chapter next month, and the 23-year-old hasn’t featured for West Brom since early October.
Stoke are likely to be in the market once again, but Southampton’s situation might just see them steal a march.
It remains to be seen whether Tony Pulis will give in and sell Berahino, but nobody is winning in the current situation, and the Saints could well take advantage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing