Mauricio Pellegrino has today confirmed that three Southampton stars are ruled out of the visit to Newcastle United.
Saturday’s game comes too soon for long-term injured Charlie Austin, despite him making progress towards a return.
Whilst midfielder Steven Davis and centre-back Maya Yoshida will not be travelling with the Southampton squad to Tyneside.
Mauricio Pellegrino was speaking at his pre-Newcastle press conference on Thursday afternoon and says he still occasionally chats to Rafa Benitez.
The Southampton boss says he will ‘always be grateful’ to Rafa for everything he taught him, adding ‘he helped me to learn a lot.’
Pellegrino sees Newcastle’s strength being in defence and the ability to counter-attack, also namechecking the St James Park crowd because ‘the fans always lift the team’.
Newcastle supporters will be hoping for a repeat of the Man Utd performance and result, Rafa having his team press from the first minute and getting their reward.
The game sees fifth bottom against fourth bottom and is one that neither club can afford to lose.
“I think we are ready to compete.
“Our performances have improved but not we have to improve the results.
“We need to be solid against Newcastle and we are ready to compete.
“Newcastle are really compact, the fans always lift the team.
“They are very good in defence and in the counter-attack.
“It will be a tough game for them as well, it will be an interesting game…
“I do still speak sometimes to Rafa Benitez and I will always be grateful to him, he helped me to learn a lot.
“Our spirit is stronger in this difficult situation than (it was) before.
“Four away matches (three in Premier League and one in FA Cup) in a row is a nice challenge…the home supporters will be against us and this kind of test can be good motivation for the players.
“Davo (Steven Davis) continues with his treatment.
“Last week he felt something more in his hamstring, so he will be unavailable for another week.
“Also, Charlie Austin and Maya Yoshida, will be the other players that are out this weekend.”
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