Southamp­ton are back in action on Fri­day after­noon as they wel­come Michael Carrick’s vis­it­ing Mid­dles­brough side.

The South Coast­ers are cer­tain­ly out­siders for auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion but still, they remain in the hunt head­ing into the final 10 games of the cam­paign.

Rus­sell Martin‘s side, who occu­py fourth, have two games in hand on rivals Ipswich Town and Leeds Unit­ed.

The Saints boss sat down with the media on Thurs­day and pre­viewed the clash against Boro at St Mary’s.

He dropped a big update on one of his injured play­ers.

Ross Stewart back in Southampton training

Southampton Training Session
Pho­to by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Get­ty Images

Speak­ing to the media on Thurs­day morn­ing, Mar­tin con­firmed that sum­mer sign­ing Ross Stew­art is back in light train­ing.

“Big Ross Stew­art is back on the grass doing light work and will slow­ly be rein­te­grat­ed back into the group,” the 38-year-old said.

“Like I’ve said before, we shouldn’t expect too much from him. It’s great to have him back in amongst things.”

Southamp­ton out­laid an ini­tial £8m plus £4m in poten­tial add-ons for Stew­art last sum­mer. He arrived from Sun­der­land off the back of 40 goals in 80 appear­ances, which is a phe­nom­e­nal return.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, for much of the sea­son, he’s been side­lined due to injury and has been reduced to just 17 min­utes of Cham­pi­onship foot­ball.

But it seems a return to action may be near­ing, although, per­haps not this term.

Russell Martin lifts pressure off Ross Stewart

Whilst Mar­tin was delight­ed to have Stew­art back in train­ing, he was also quick to lift the pres­sure off him and stressed that there shouldn’t be any expec­ta­tions.

Hav­ing endured such a lengthy injury lay-off, the Scot­land inter­na­tion­al needs to be man­aged accord­ing­ly and shouldn’t be rushed straight back in.

Speak­ing back in Decem­ber, Mar­tin said that Stew­art would be out for the sea­son: “I think we need to be real­ly hon­est about Ross and real­is­tic, we prob­a­bly won’t see him again this sea­son.

“Although it’s short term pain for us, long term we need Ross to have a full pre-sea­son. To then risk him for maybe three or four weeks of this sea­son seems a lit­tle bit crazy, but it depends on the sit­u­a­tion we’re in.”

So it seems Stew­art won’t fea­ture again this sea­son unless of course, Southamp­ton end up in the play-offs, maybe that’ll allow him suf­fi­cient time to get up to speed in train­ing.

Either way, he’s clear­ly on the right path and he’ll be eager to repay Martin’s trust in him.

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