But following a run of four victories from their last five outings, Hasenhuttl’s side are on the brink of a small piece of history.“If you told me this would happen before the season, I would say you are a little bit stupid,” said Hasenhuttl. “We are lucky that we play Friday evening because it gives us a great chance.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Friday 6th November 8:00pm It is 32 years, when Southampton were managed by Chris Nicholl, that they could last regard themselves as top-flight table-toppers. 3:09 Hasenhuttl will be without Danny Ings for the visit of Newcastle after the striker underwent surgery on a knee injury. The England international, who has scored five times this season, is set to be sidelined for at least one month.In his absence, Theo Walcott and Shane Long are in contention to spearhead Southampton’s attack alongside Che Adams.Hasenhuttl, 53, added: “Whoever gets the chance to play should know this is a big chance and grab it because we now have four to six weeks without Danny.“We need somebody who gives us alternatives, and who gives us the best opportunities for what we demand – we will take a decision from there.” Ralph Hasenhuttl admits he could have never predicted his Southampton side’s potentially table-topping form before the start of the season.Victory against Newcastle at St Mary’s Stadium on Friday Night Football, live on Sky Sports, will see the Saints spend at least a day at the top of the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.- Advertisement – FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Southampton’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League Kick off 8:00pm It caps a remarkable 12 months for Hasenhuttl after his side were thrashed 9-0 by Leicester last October and facing up to the prospect of a relegation dogfight.But they went on to finish a credible 11th and head into Friday’s fixture fifth in the division after their opening seven matches. However, Hasenhuttl is refusing to get carried away with his side’s encouraging early-season form.“I have seen so many teams in the beginning of the season being top of the table and near the top, and then relegated,” the former RB Leipzig manager added.“We know things can change so quickly – a few injuries or something like that – but at the moment we are a very strong side and we showed again we can have a high level of performing.“Before I came here, I worked at a team where losing was nearly not allowed because we wanted to be top in Germany, and this mentality I tried to implement from the first day that I’m here.“We have that mentality of, I sometimes call it, we like to be the pirate and it’s more fun than to join the navy. So it’s definitely something we can use every day and makes it fun to go and grab some points from the big teams.” 0:35 – Advertisement – Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard is confident the team can cope with the absence of Danny Ings as the striker recovers from injury
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By Ian RansomPERTH (Reuters) – An epic and unbeaten 301-run stand by Australia captain Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh left England’s hopes of retaining the Ashes in jeopardy on day three of the third Test at the WACA on Saturday.On an agonising day for Joe Root’s team, Smith broke English hearts with his second double-century after recalled all-rounder Marsh celebrated his maiden ton.The pair pushed Australia to 549 for four and a first innings lead of 146 runs, rendering England’s 403 a hopelessly inadequate total on a featherbed wicket.They strode off to a standing ovation, with Smith unbeaten on 229 and Marsh 181 not out, pushing towards a double-century of his own.“It felt really good yesterday, I was in the zone. I wanted to cash in today,” Smith said before he exited the ground to roaring applause.“We wanted to be out in the middle and just keep batting.”Two-nil down after losses in Brisbane and Adelaide, England’s hopes of keeping the series alive to Melbourne appear bleak.On day two, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow had English chests bursting with pride after compiling 237 runs for a record fifth-wicket partnership at the WACA.But the mark lasted less than a day, as Smith and Marsh smashed 57 boundaries between them to leave England praying for the mercy of rain.Showers are forecast for days four and five, but the weather may not be enough to save the tourists, who managed only a single wicket despite no fewer than seven players rolling over their arm throughout the day.Having torched England for 107 runs in the middle session, Smith and Marsh plundered another 128 after tea, as the tourists’ lack of pace was ruthlessly exposed.“It’s been a very, very tough day for our team,” England assistant coach Paul Farbrace told reporters.“What can we do? We’ve got what we’ve got… When it comes to flatter pitches, we don’t have that express pace.”Smith punished England with 215 at Lord’s in 2015 but set himself a new personal best at the WACA in a masterclass of patience, precision and timing.His unbeaten 390-ball knock has him fourth on the list of highest innings at the WACA, with the possibility of further promotion on day four.He reached the three-figure mark, his seventh against England, when he whipped paceman James Anderson through the leg side for four.The second hundred came with a single off all-rounder Moeen Ali, and he bounded down the wicket roaring in triumph to the delight of a big day three crowd.He also notched his 1,000th run for the year, and joined former Australia opener Matthew Hayden in reaching the mark four years in succession.Marsh completed a rare family trio of Ashes tons.His older brother Shaun Marsh scored an unbeaten 126 in the second test win at Adelaide Oval, and his father Geoff, beaming with pride in the heaving WACA crowd, posted 138 as an opener at Nottingham in the 1989 series.The younger Marsh cut paceman Stuart Broad to the fence to bring up his ton from 130 balls and pumped his fist in jubilation, having scored only two half-centuries in his previous 21 tests.While stopping short of declaring England’s spirit broken, Marsh said they were “obviously tired”.“Today was just a great day for Australia. To only lose one wicket for the whole day has really put us in a strong position,” said the 26-year-old.Moeen had Shaun Marsh caught at slip for 28 in the first hour but it was to prove England’s only highlight.Farbrace insisted the Ashes were still alive.“We’ve got two more days to play. It’s going to be tough, of course it’s going to be tough,” he said.“We’ve got to show some guts and determination.”ENGLAND 1st innings 403 (D. Malan 140, J. Bairstow 119, M. Stoneman 56; M. Starc 4-91) Australia 1st innings (Overnight: 203-3)C. Bancroft lbw b C. Overton 25D. Warner c Bairstow b C. Overton 22U. Khawaja lbw b Woakes 50S. Smith not out 229S. Marsh c Root b Ali 28M. Marsh not out 181Extras (b-2 lb-10 nb-1 w-1) 14Total (for 4 wickets, 152 overs) 549Fall of wickets: 1-44 D. Warner,2-55 C. Bancroft,3-179 U. Khawaja,4-248 S. MarshTo bat: T. Paine, M. Starc, P. Cummins, N. Lyon, J. HazlewoodBowling: J. Anderson 29 – 8 – 85 – 0(nb-1), S. Broad 28 – 3 – 112 – 0,C. Woakes 32 – 4 – 108 – 1(w-1),C. Overton 23 – 1 – 102 – 2,M. Ali 31 – 4 – 104 – 1, J. Root 3 – 0 – 13 – 0,D. Malan 6 – 1 – 13 – 0.