Southampton boosted by return of free-scoring Gabbiadini

Britain Soccer Football - Watford v Southampton - Premier League - Vicarage Road - 4/3/17 Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini celebrates scoring their third goal Reuters / Paul Hackett Livepic

(Reuters) - Southampton's hopes of staying in the top half of the Premier League have been handed a welcome boost by the return of striker Manolo Gabbiadini ahead of their home clash with Manchester City on Saturday.

Gabbiadini joined Southampton from Italian side Napoli in January and enjoyed a superb start to life in England, scoring six goals in five games before injuring his groin against Tottenham Hotspur last month.

Southampton struggled in their first match without the 25-year-old when they were held 0-0 by Bournemouth but they have since rebounded with back-to-back wins after manager Claude Puel called on his players to take more responsibility.

"(Gabbiadini) is likely to come back into the squad and we will see if he can start, or perhaps come on in the second half of the game," Puel told a news conference on Thursday. "We will wait to see this in tomorrow's training session."

Puel will also have midfielder Steve Davis available again after a one-game absence as the Saints, ninth in the table, brace themselves for a tough run-in.

As well as the visit of fourth-placed City, they have tough trips to leaders Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as home games against Arsenal and Manchester United to come.

"I want my players to continue to improve because we want to finish the season in the top half of the table," Puel said.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Chadband)