Obafemi Returns To Training
Wednesday, 13th Feb 2019 10:33
Saints fans will be boosted by the news that Michael Obafemi has returned to training and has travelled to Tenerife with the rest of the Saints squad, however Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that there may be more to this story than meets the eye.
Michael Obafemi has been missing from the Saints squad since scoring at Huddersfield back in December and should he be fit to face Arsenal then it would be over two months on the sidelines for him with what has been described as a hamstring injury.
Obafemi's return to the squad will be a big boost in that he will add pace to the Saints attack, but we have to be careful that too much expectation is put on his shoulders, the goal at Huddersfield was at the seventh time of asking having drawn a blank in not only his only full start for Saints in the Premier League where he lasted 64 minutes before being replaced against Manchester United but in four sub appearances in the league plus a start at Leicester in the League cup where he missed a glorious opportunity to win the tie for Saints.
The goal at Huddersfield was a relief, he had used his pace well and got into some good positions, but his finishing had let him down and there was a danger that he might be no better than those he was seeking to replace.
At Huddersfield he had missed a decent chance before he took his goal, but his problem now is that having scored and subsequently not played, his legend is now bigger than the actual sum of his total and that could be dangerous and weigh heavily on him if he does not produce instant results on his return.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that there may be a little more to his extended absence than just injury.
The Austrian said:
“He’s [Obafemi] back in training.
“He will be a part of the team in Tenerife.
“Ingsy and Lemina are staying at home because it’s too early for them. We only take players who can train with us and Michael’s fit.”
But Hasenhuttl has previously questioned Obafemi’s professionalism.
Speaking at a fans’ forum event, the Saints chief thought the striker’s injuries could have been prevented with a better focus on recovery.
: “I think we must look exactly what the reasons are for these injuries are.
“Michael Obafemi came up from the youth and he has a very, very stiff body because he is a type of sprinter and this guy has to work very hard on his body, so he can play the game we need him to play."
“He is very, very quick and we need him to sprint not two or three times, but we need it 20 or 30 times."
“To do this, he must be more physically trained and also have a better recovery like he did until now."
“I think I am missing a bit of professionalism in his work and that is sometimes a part of the young players.”
The final lines from Hasenhuttl are very strange, in where or what is Obafemi lacking in professionalism, presumably it is not in his actual treatment in that will be closely managed and monitored.
It seems to hint at something not directly connected with the injury and perhaps more to do with his attitude.
Given Hasenhuttl's usual method of praising players rather that criticising them, his play on words suggests a frustration on the manager's part about the player himself.
Southampton is a small City and there are always rumours, most are greatly embellished along the way and Obafemi woul not be the first young footballer to either find fame going to his head before he has actually truly made the grade, nor for rumours to abound.
From the sound of Hasenhuttl's comments, the issue Saints have had over the last month and perhaps going forward is going to be about keeping the player himself grounded and focused on the task ahead, Obafemi undoubtedly has talent, but football is littered with players who have scored in the Premier League early in their career thought they had it made but have ended up journeymen in the lower leagues or just on the scrapheap.
Saints need a fit Michael Obafemi, he is a string to the bow, but Hasenhuttl is perhaps suggesting that whilst the strikers hamstring injury was an issue for the first part of his spell on the sidelines for the second part it might not have been the case and rather than hamstring it has been Saints who have been hamstrung due to unrelated matters.
Photo: Action Images
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