Puel confirms lengthy Austin lay-off for Southampton

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Claude Puel has confirmed Southampton striker Charlie Austin will be out of action for three to four months with a shoulder injury. 

Austin was absent as the Saints secured a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Sunday to bounce back from crashing out of the Europa League against Hapoel Be'er Sheva on Thursday.

And, in his post-match press conference, Puel confirmed the severity of the forward's latest setback.

The 27-year-old joined from QPR in January and has scored 10 goals for the club in all competitions as a series of fitness concerns have hampered his involvement.

Puel was, however, delighted to see his side return to winning ways on Sunday, with Sofiane Boufal's second-half strike the difference.

"In the first half we did not play with good fluency, but in the second half we were always strong and had good quality on the pitch," Puel told reporters.

"We changed the system, it was a very good second half and we deserved more goals.

"It is an important result after the disappointment of going out of the Europa League. The three points are very important and it is always important after a disappointment to win the next game so we showed good character."

Boufal delivered the win with a sublime long-range strike and Puel was full of praise for the Morocco international.

"Boufal is a fantastic player - his qualities are fantastic," Puel added. "He can become an important player for the squad."

Boro boss Aitor Karanka, meanwhile, refused to point the finger at any of his players for their defeat.

"We did almost everything, I cannot say anything about the players," Karanka told reporters. "We kept working but in the Premier League you have to score your chances.

"We finished the first half well and I said we had to keep that intensity but they started the second half better than us. But we are improving and growing, especially in defence."