Southampton confirm major injury blow ahead of Leicester City and Leeds United fixtures

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Southampton’s automatic promotion hopes could be over when they come to Leeds United on the final day.

Southampton manager Russell Martin has confirmed he will be without Stuart Armstrong for the remainder of the season due to a muscle injury, with the midfielder set to miss crucial games against Leicester City and Leeds United.

Armstrong was stretchered off during Southampton’s 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City on Saturday, his injury compounding a miserable day in which the promotion hopefuls threw away a lead and conceded the decisive goal in the 96th-minute. Martin admitted immediately after the result that the injury was ‘a bad one’ and the midfielder left Wales on crutches.

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Southampton can still mathematically finish in the Championship's automatic promotion places but would need to finish perfectly and see those above slip up. The Saints go to Leicester City on Tuesday and Leeds United on the final day, with a home game against Stoke City in between.

“It’s his quad, it’s a muscle injury,” Martin confirmed of Armstrong’s injury. “We’ll do everything we can to get him fit for the Euros for Scotland. I think he has a big chance for that, I don’t think he has any chance of playing for us really. He has a big hope of getting in the Scotland squad because he’s been fantastic for them and for us this season and has been in every squad.

“I think there’s a realistic chance with the injury he has to be fit for that. So we will do everything we can as a football club to help him get there. It wasn’t as serious as we all feared but it is serious enough to keep him out for a period of time now where he can’t help us unfortunately.”

Southampton will also be sweating on the fitness of Flynn Downes for the final games, with the on-loan West Ham man not involved at Cardiff after being substituted at half-time during the 3-0 home win over Preston during the week. It is unclear what issue the midfielder has but Martin has suggested he may not be risked once a top-two finish is impossible.

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“The landscape has changed a little bit,” the Saints boss said of his midfielder. “It’s risk and reward a bit with Flynn, so we’ll have to wait and see.” Southampton could feasibly have their play-off place confirmed by the time they come to Leeds on the final day, with five points to make up on second-place Ipswich Town and just three games to do so.