Saints' Ings could return to face Arsenal in Cup: Hasenhuettl

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Southampton v Liverpool - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - January 4, 2021 Southampton's Danny Ings celebrates scoring their first goal Pool via REUTERS/Naomi Baker

(Reuters) - Southampton striker Danny Ings could play in Saturday's FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Arsenal after missing the last two games because of a COVID-19 positive test, manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said on Thursday.

Ings returned a positive result for the novel coronavirus after scoring the winning goal in Saints' 1-0 Premier League home victory over Liverpool on Jan. 4.

The 28-year-old missed Saturday's 2-0 Premier League defeat at Leicester City and the 2-0 win at home to Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup third round on Tuesday.

"An option for the weekend is Danny, he is coming back," Hasenhuettl told reporters. "(Him) being available means we have more options in the front.

"It is important after the injury he had and now COVID too that he is available again. He is important for our game and we try to bring him in the position that he can score again and help us."

Ings, who has seven goals in 13 league games this season, has been linked by British media with a move away from Southampton to play Champions League football, but Hasenhuettl said the club wanted him to stay "for as long as possible".

The England forward's Southampton contract is due to expire in June 2022.

"As long as there is no signing of the contract, it (speculation) will not stop," Hasenhuettl said. "I can only say that we want him to stay and we show that we want him to be here and he shows signals that he wants to be with us.

"He knows his quality now, we helped him to be that strong. It is a win-win situation if we can find the solution. He likes playing with this team and the atmosphere is fantastic."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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