REUTERS – Southampton skipper Jose Fonte has backed Shane Long to fill the void created by the club’s leading scorer Graziano Pelle, who will miss Saturday’s Premier League clash against Manchester City after picking up his fifth booking of the season.
Southampton lost 1-0 at home to Stoke City in the league on Saturday, and Pelle, who has scored six league goals so far, capped a frustrating afternoon by picking up a booking for kicking the ball away in added time, earning his fifth yellow card and, therefore, an automatic suspension.
Fonte is confident striker Long, who made his first start in the league in Saturday’s loss since their 3-0 defeat by Everton on Aug. 15, can cause the City backline plenty of problems.
“Well, we have other players in the team so we need to deal with it. We’ll still play with 11 there so we should be all right,” Fonte told the British media.
“Obviously he’s (Pelle) an important part in our team and it is going to be difficult without him.”
“But we have trust in the other players as well. We all know the philosophy that we have and we’ll try and play our game there.”
“It is a good opportunity for Shane to show that he can play up there as well. He’s going to have his chance there so let’s hope he can get some goals,” he added.
Saints will be chasing their first win away at City since returning to the England’s top flight in 2012.
“We know it’s going to be tough. But obviously we’re going to go there and try and get a result,” Fonte said.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)