Football

Potentially Good News For Irish Strikers, As Austin Nears Southampton Exit

Potentially Good News For Irish Strikers, As Austin Nears Southampton Exit

This could be good news for Mick McCarthy. Ralph Hasenhuttl is set to continue his shakeup of the Southampton squad, with Charlie Austin looking likely to leave the club over the next few days.

The Telegraph are reporting that the Englishman has been told he is free to leave the English south coast club, with Wolves and Aston Villa both interested in his services. Southampton have already rejected one bid for the player, but it is expected a deal will be sorted before the end of the transfer window.

Austin has started only two Premier League games since the start of December, with Hasenhuttl preferring other options in his lone striker system. The player joined Southampton for £4million three years ago, and has endured mixed fortunes during his time at St Mary's. He has managed only 59 league appearances in that span, largely due to injury.

He will pursue more regular playing time at his next club, although one would assume he would prefer to remain in the English top flight, which would suggest a move to Aston Villa may be unlikely. Galatasaray have also shown an interest in the player, and they would offer Austin the chance to play European football.

Manolo Gabbiadini also returned to Serie A this month, clearing out what was a surplus of strikers at Southampton.

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All of this is of course potentially good news for Irish duo Shane Long and Michael Obafemi. Long has seen an increase in playing time under Hasenhuttl, scoring and earning man-of-the-match honours in the recent victory over Leicester City.

Obafemi was also a favourite of the Austrian when he arrived at the club, but he has missed the last few weeks of action after suffering a hamstring injury. He scored his first goal for the club under the new manager, and will look to play his way back into the side upon his imminent return.

The pathway to a starting place is not quite clear, however. Nathan Redmond has been used up front recently, while Danny Ings will also hope to put his recent injury troubles behind him.

Mick McCarthy will no doubt be hoping that both player see consistent playing time over the next few weeks, with Ireland's opening Euro 2020 Qualifiers quickly approaching.

SEE ALSO: The Forgotten Galáctico: The Cautionary Tale Of James Rodriguez

Gary Connaughton

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