West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits he has had to nurse a number of players through training this week in a bid to have them ready for tomorrow’s game against Saints.
With only two Premier League games played so far, Allardyce is already missing captain Kevin Nolan and club-record signing Andy Carroll with shoulder and ankle injuries respectively.
Defenders James Collins and Arsenal loanee Carl Jenkinson are both absent with hamstring problems, while Matt Jarvis is missing and new signing Diafra Sakho – who opened his account for the Hammers in their Capital One Cup second-round defeat to Sheffield United – is struggling with tightness in his back.
All of that means Allardyce is low on numbers as he looks to add to the 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace last weekend when Saints visit Upton Park.
“Our training is very limited at the moment,” he said.
“We're nursing the lads through training to be available for the game on Saturday.
“It's getting rather too long, the list, but saying that, after last Saturday's performance – and Tuesday's too – we're looking pretty good as a team in the way we're playing.
“What we haven't done at home is turn the two good performances into results and that's a little concern, because we need to be more ruthless and finish teams off, as we did against Crystal Palace.”
Mauro Zarate, Stewart Downing and Carlton Cole were all on target at Selhurst Park but it is profligate finishing that has cost West Ham dear in both their opening day league defeat to Tottenham and Tuesday's penalty shoot-out cup exit.
With Carroll sidelined, Allardyce has signed Sakho, Zarate and Enner Valencia to provide goals in the absence of the England international.
While Sakho and Zarate are off the mark, Ecuador World Cup star Valencia has yet to notch his first Hammers goal and was guilty of missing a number of chances against the Blades - including the pivotal penalty in the shoot-out.
But Allardyce has jumped to the defence of his new striker, rumoured to have cost the club a fee in the region of £12million, and believes the best is to come once the 25-year-old has improved his fitness.
“The trouble with football is that people expect players to come in straight away,” he said.
“His first full game since the World Cup was on Tuesday, and if he had been playing his first game in pre-season, we'd have given him 45 minutes.
“We had to play him for 120 minutes because of the circumstances - he got through it exceptionally well, but he has a long way to go still to catch his match fitness up.
“When a new player comes in, everybody expects him to be ready in 10 days or two weeks. It's mind-boggling to me how people keep asking about him and keep saying ‘why is he not playing?’
“I've heard that for the last 10-12 years, but I know it's my job to make sure he is 100 per cent fit to be ready to go on a regular basis. And once he does that, we hope he proves himself as soon as he possibly can to show the goalscoring ability we know he has got.”