Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl remains hopeful striker Danny Ings will sign a new contract.
Hasenhuttl said the England international, whose current deal expires in 2022, was in talks over committing his future to the club, although the financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic were making things “tricky”.
Ings, 28, who has been in self-isolation since testing positive for Covid-19 soon after scoring the winner in Southampton’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool on January 4 after testing positive for Covid-19.
Ings is the club’s top scorer so far this season with seven goals in 13 Premier League games.
“This is not a big surprise when I say he is very important for our game, he knows this, we know this,” said Hasenhuttl, whose side face Shrewsbury in their rescheduled FA Cup third-round tie on Tuesday.
“We have won games without him, but for the long term, we really feel it and the quality he has is definitely outstanding and definitely important for us.
“It is (difficult) for us a club to sub him or to use somebody who is at the same level as he is, so this is also why we really tried to extend his contract, this is not a surprise and not a secret.
“But, as always, we are in the negotiation. We have at the moment a tricky situation for every club in the Premier League.
“I think everybody is losing a lot of money at the moment with this crisis we are going through, so we can only do what we are able to do and what is still (financially) healthy for us and that’s why we are looking I think.
“Danny chose to be with us, he wants to be with the club and we know that he’s an important player for us and I’m still hoping that we find an agreement and then finally he stays with us.
“But if not life will go on and this club will still exist and hopefully we find a way that we can both live with it.”
Smallbone suffers ACL injury
Southampton were without six players for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Leicester, including Oriol Romeu and Jannik Vestergaard as well as Ings – and their problems have deepened with the news Will Smallbone faces six months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
The 20-year-old midfielder was forced off in the 61st minute against the Foxes and Hasenhuttl said: “After the last game we have another one, another big injury with Will Smallbone.
“It’s an ACL injury, so half a year out maybe. It’s horrible for the young lad and for us.
“At the moment with these injuries it is definitely not our best side to be honest, but there are maybe some circumstances at the moment in this strange season which leads to a lot of problems with injuries that we didn’t have the whole of last season.
“So it’s interesting to see what this season does to the players. We are not the only team that struggles with injuries so it’s quite strange.”