Danny Ings’ hopes of making England’s Euro 2020 squad have suffered a major blow after Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl suggested the striker may not play again this season.
Saints’ top scorer was forced off by a hamstring problem in last week’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham having claimed his 10th Premier League goal of the campaign.
The 28-year-old has not returned to training and will definitely be absent for Friday evening’s game at home to Leicester, casting doubt over his availability for the European Championships, which are scheduled to begin in just six weeks.
“It is not that (much) worse than it looked at first but it’s also that serious that he misses now a few games, I don’t know if he comes back for the last games,” Hasenhuttl said of Ings.
“We have Liverpool (on May 8) and then five games in two weeks so we need every player.”
Ings scored on his most recent England appearance – a 3-0 win over Wales in October – but did not join up with his country last month because of a leg problem.
He faces stiff competition for national team selection, with Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford, Ollie Watkins, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood among the other attacking options available to manager Gareth Southgate.
The Three Lions chief will want to go into the tournament with everyone fit, though he may have extra wiggle room if UEFA decide to allow 26-man squads instead of the usual 23.
Ings’ latest injury setback sees him join Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu and Will Smallbone in Saints’ treatment room.
With Bertrand’s current deal set to expire in the summer and Ings regularly linked with move away from St Mary’s, Hasenhuttl dismissed suggestions the pair were being left out for contractual reasons.
“It was definitely an injury and with Ryan Bertrand it is the same problem; he cannot train since two weeks because he has a calf problem,” said the Austrian.
“That’s it. What can I tell you?”