Southampton striker Charlie Austin and Matt Target are ready to play with the Under-23 side against Manchester City on Friday night (5 May) in a bid to force their way back in the first-team ahead of the last games of the campaign. However, Claude Puel suggested that the Sunday's trip to Liverpool may still come too early for the striker.

Austin remains as the Saints' top scorer after enjoying an impressive start to the campaign, netting nine goals in the first 19 games.

However, the 27-year-old striker is yet to play a game since the Europa League encounter with Hapoel Beer Sheva on 8 December due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Meanwhile, Target has missed much of the current campaign after undergoing a surgery in his hamstring in December.

But the duo could be ready to help Southampton in the last part of the campaign after Puel revealed that both players will be playing when the Under-23 side take on Manchester City on Friday night.

Charlie Austin
Austin has been out since December. Getty Images

"It is the Under-23s last game of the season and Charlie Austin will play his first game against Manchester City today," Puel said in the press conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Liverpool.

"Matt Targett will also play as will Jeremy Pied, Harrison Reed, Sam McQueen, Florin Gardos and Mouez Hassen. Many players will play and hopefully it will help some of them to improve their physical fitness. I hope we can see them until the end of the season."

Southampton, who are currently sit in the ninth position of the Premier League table, still have five games remaining against Liverpool, Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Stoke City.

Asked whether Austin has any chance to even be available to face Liverpool on Sunday, Puel said: "I don't know. It's difficult to know this because it is important to see him on this level and the possibility to make a good game and training session."

"We will see for the next games and days, but at the moment we have many players in attack and it is important to see the level of everyone."

Meanwhile, the French boss has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the clash with Liverpool but long-term casualty Virgil van Dijk remains on the sidelines.