Southampton handed pre-match injury boost ahead of ‘must-win’ Newcastle United game

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A fitness boost for Southampton ahead of facing Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

Southampton will welcome back Armel Bella-Kotchap for this afternoon’s Premier League clash at Newcastle United (kick-off 2pm).

The German defender was left out of the matchday squad for Thursday night’s 1-0 home defeat to AFC Bournemouth as the Saints slipped closer towards the top-flight exit door.

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Bella-Kotchap had started the last three games prior to his absence. He was unable to play in midweek because “he was not ready to perform”, according to interim boss Ruben Selles.

Southampton’s German defender Armel Bella-Kotchap. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)Southampton’s German defender Armel Bella-Kotchap. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
Southampton’s German defender Armel Bella-Kotchap. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) | AFP via Getty Images

Selles, however, did confirm the 21-year-old will be available for the trip to St James’ Park, where the Saints must win to keep their survival hopes alive. They currently sit six points from safety.

“I think we have been talking about for the last five or six games, of course it is one we must win – more now than ever – but we are trying to go for it,” Selles admitted. “In the last game [vs Newcastle], we started a little bit slow and conceded two quick goals to put us out of the game.

“We cannot make those mistakes again as it is very difficult to make a comeback if you are down in the Premier League. We have to be brave from the very beginning, we have shown that we can cause damage in certain situations. We need to go for it.”

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Ruben Selles is the third permanent manager to take charge of Southampton. (Getty Images)Ruben Selles is the third permanent manager to take charge of Southampton. (Getty Images)
Ruben Selles is the third permanent manager to take charge of Southampton. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

On Newcastle, Selles added: “They are in a good moment, we know as we also played them in the cup and have faced them three times.

“We are going to study what they do and try to put our personality on it, try and apply a good pressure there and try to control the difference with the age and mobility of their front three.

“We will try to find spaces to beat them and we will put together a game plan to go and get a victory, as we try to do in every game.”

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