Southampton must rely on Charlie Austin for goals after Inter defeat

Southampton's Charlie Austin in action with Inter Milan's Samir Handanovic

Southampton lack of cutting edge saw them slump to a 1-0 defeat at the San Siro, and they must begin to rely on Charlie Austin as their main striker.

Southampton's Charlie Austin in action with Inter Milan's Samir Handanovic

Charlie Austin has scored in every game in which he has completed 90 minutes of football this season.

That is a remarkable stat. Coupled with his record of seven goals in 10 appearances (including substitute appearances), it demonstrates his quality in front of goal.

However, he was left on the bench for Southampton's clash with Inter, and they fell to a 1-0 defeat in Milan despite dominating the game and outplaying their significantly more decorated opponents.

Inter Milan's Miranda tackles Southampton's Jay Rodriguez

All that was missing from their game was a clinical finisher to put away the few clear-cut chances that they fashioned. Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long are decent strikers in their own right, but they should be fighting for a place alongside Austin - not taking his starting spot.

It is clear that Claude Puel wanted to rotate his squad, prioritising the Premier League over the Europa League, and understandably so.

But it is not often that you get to go to the home of the last Italian team to win the Champions League, languishing at the bottom of Europa League Group K and in poor form, and outplay them.

Inter Milan's Cristian Ansaldi, Gary Medel and Miranda in action with Southampton's Sofiane Boufal

This is obviously not the Inter side of old, but beating them at the San Siro would have been a massively confidence-boosting achievement, and Puel should have made the most of it.

Starting Charlie Austin would have been a big step towards doing that. The changes to midfield and defence were less significant, and mostly excusable, but the decision to leave your best striker on the bench was not so.

He was forced into action shortly after half -time anyway, replacing Long after he appeared to suffer an injury, but he was unable to change the state of the game, despite coming close and Inter getting a man sent off.

Southampton's Shane Long goes off injured

It wasn't the only case in Europe this week of an English club's manager either over-thinking their game plan or not trusting in their premier goalscorer. Sergio Aguero shared Austin's frustrations, watching on from the sidelines as Kevin De Bruyne played as a false-9 and his team were battered 4-0. 

Sometimes, all a team needs is a quality, reliable number 9 who can stick the ball in the back of the net. Austin is that man for the Saints

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