Southampton manager Ronald Koeman will be hoping that injured midfielder Steven Davis will be fit to face Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
The Northern Ireland captain missed Monday night’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa following an injury he picked up prior to the recent international break, with his absence a key reason for the lack of cohesion going forward.
With the challenge of Manuel Pellegrini’s side coming to town this weekend, Koeman will be hoping that one of his best - but most underrated - players can return.
Without Davis on Monday night, the Saints lacked a cohesion that has seen them leap up to second in the Premier League table. The energy and work-rate that he brings to the side is somewhat underrated but those who watch Southampton closely know how much of an influence he has.
Having joined Southampton from Rangers in the summer of 2012, Davis has become one of the first names on the team sheet at St. Mary’s ever since, with his absence felt more than most.
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If Koeman can get Davis fit enough to start Sunday’s game, his side might be able to find the fluidity they were lacking at Aston Villa.
The challenge of facing City is one that Ronald Koeman will be relishing, for it will be his first meeting with them since joining the Saints this summer.
City will arrive at St. Mary’s full of confidence following Wednesday night’s Champions League turnaround against Manchester City with Sergio Aguero particularly in red-hot form.
The Argentine striker netted a hat-trick against the German Champions in their 3-2 win and the normally watertight Saints defence will need to be at their best to keep him at bay.
Davis’ versatility key
This is where Steven Davis will help out most. With his ability to help out when needed in defensive situations combined with his calmness on the ball, the diminutive 5ft 8in midfielder is a key player for club and country.
For Koeman though, he may be realising just how important Davis is to his team.
Although not a player who will grab the headlines on a regular basis, Davis’ consistency and work off the ball has made him a firm favourite amongst the Southampton faithful.
Having played in every match so far this season, apart from the Villa defeat, it shows that Koeman has faith in the midfielder and without him they do not function as well, making him the most important part of the Southampton machine.