Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has received a huge boost ahead of the Premier League visit of Liverpool on Sunday (20 March) after the FA withdrew the red card shown to Sadio Mane at Stoke City. Meanwhile, long-term injury concern Jay Rodriguez has declared himself "fully fit" to help the team in the final part of the season, returning to action during the Under-21s victory over Middlesbrough on Monday night.
Mane received a straight red card during the 2-1 victory over Stoke City for a challenge on Erik Pieters late in the game. The Senegal international was expected to miss the next three games, against Liverpool, Leicester City and Newcastle United. However, the FA has now confirmed the forward will be able for selection after Southampton's appeal against the dismissal was successful.
"An Independent Regulatory Commission has today [Tuesday 15 March 2016] upheld a wrongful dismissal claim in relation to Southampton's Sadio Mane," the FA confirmed in an official statement. "The forward, who was dismissed for serious foul play during the game against Stoke City on Saturday [12 March 2016], will therefore not serve any suspension."
The news is massive boost for the Dutch manager ahead of the game with the Reds as the 23-year-old has been a crucial asset in the Saints campaign, scoring seven goals in 35 appearances.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez made a major step forward in his long-awaited return to full fitness by playing an hour for the club's Under-21 side. The 26-year-old is yet to play a game since a 2-2 draw against Leicester City in October, after being forced to undergo surgery on his foot.
Having trained with the first-team in recent weeks, the forward says he is fully fit and just needs some playing time to return to form ahead of the last part of the campaign.
"It was nice," he told Southampton's official YouTube channel. "I feel fully fit now, I think it's just obviously match fitness and by playing hopefully I can improve."
""I felt good. Martin asked how I was and I felt alright, but I think he wanted to get Fela [Olufela Olomola] on, and he did well when he came on, but it was nice. I feel now that I've played a game, a competitive game, it's just a case of see what happens and just try and work hard and keep improving."