Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has said Danny Ings’ latest injury is “serious but not too serious” and that he could be fit by the end of the month.
The striker suffered another setback in an injury-hit season when he was forced off early on in Southampton’s win over Sheffield United on Saturday with what appeared to be a muscle problem in his leg.
“I think it is a serious one but not too serious. I think three weeks will be – I expect him being back after the international break,” the Saints boss said on Monday.
That would rule Ings out of Saints’ next three matches, including the FA Cup quarter-final with Bournemouth on March 20, before returning to face Burnley in early April.
Ings has scored nine goals in 25 appearances for Southampton this season, but has already spent time on the sidelines.
He missed a month before Christmas with a knee problem and was sidelined for three weeks in January, leaving his manager to admit Ings has faced too many setbacks already this season.
Hasenhuttl added: “A little bit too much to be honest, but what can we do? We must in the next season have a better pre-season hopefully to avoid this situation we had with him this season and make a few other changes because it is more than we can take I think.
“But as it is we have to take it and do the best (we can).”
Southampton travel to league leaders Manchester City on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side had their 21-match winning run in all competitions ended by local rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
City still have an 11-point gap at the top and face a Southampton side that ended a run of four games without a win on Saturday.
“I try to take every game as an opportunity,” Hasenhuttl said.
“We can beat them, we have shown in the past. The last two games against them I think we did a very good job, we had a lot of possession, we really stressed them with and without the ball.
“And I think we have shown in the last two games against them that we are a better side now and we still just have to get something there but we go there to be as strong as possible an opponent.”