Puel faces major selection headache ahead of Southampton's clash with Inter MIlan
Major selection headache for Puel

Puel faces major selection headache ahead of Southampton's clash with Inter MIlan

Claude Puel will have to make some bold decisions ahead of the Europa League tie.

Liam Billo

Claude Puel has some tough selection dilemmas ahead of Southampton's crunch Europa League clash against Inter Milan at St Mary’s on Wednesday night.

Inter sacked boss Frank De Boer on Monday, after just three months at the helm of a club and just two days before taking to pitch on the South Coast.

The three-time European champions have lost five of their last seven games but did beat Saints by a single goal at the San Siro two weeks ago, a game Puel and co. should arguably have got something from.

That result dropped Saints to second in the group, so that has made the three points available from the reverse fixture even more important.

Puel has to make the decision on putting out a full-strength team or resting a few players, but another defeat will damage their chances of progress to the knockout stages.

The team Puel opted for in Italy. Source Getty
The team Puel opted for in Italy. (Picture Source: Getty Images)

Will Puel's line-up vs. Inter indicate how important this competition is to him?

The Frenchman is renowned for his tinkering tactics and he left Charlie Austin, Stephen Davis, Ryan Bertrand, Nathan Redmond and captain Jose Fonte out for both of their previous away games in the competition, paying the price with a draw to Hapoel Be’er Sheva and a defeat at the San Siro.

The first selection he has to make is for the left-back position, where he will have to consider risking England international Ryan Bertrand days after returning from injury. Sam Mcqueen is his other available option, though it would be only his fourth appearance against one of the biggest names in European football.

Moving on to the centre back position, Virgil van Dijk has been ever present and should keep his place, but there is debate over who should partner him.

Returning Captain Jose Fonte or Maya Yoshida, who hasn’t done anything wrong to warrant a drop to the bench, are the two main options but with Mauro Icardi up top for Inter, Puel needs to rely upon a solid back-line.

Furthermore, does the manager recall England Under-21s captain James Ward-Prowse after his fantastic performance at the San Siro? Or does he recall Pierre Hojbjerg? The former Bayern Munich midfielder was sat on the bench against Chelsea but has played twice in the Europa League.

Both of these two started in Milan, but were replaced by Steven Davis and Jordy Clasie for the 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea at the weekend.

Should Puel make changes in attack?

What about record signing Soufiane Boufal? The winger opened his account for Saints with a wonder goal against Sunderland in the League Cup last week, but if he comes in, where does he start?

Boufal opening his account with a worldy!. Source: Getty
Boufal opening his account with a worldy!. Source: Getty

With Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez injured, Charlie Austin looks likely to start, and he has two goals in just one start in this competition.

Puel has selected his teams for the Europa League with a slight thought on the following games on Sunday in the Premier League.

After their trip to Israel, they played away to Champions Leicester and after their Italy trip they went to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

This time around, they travel to already relegation threatened Hull City and so he could think about playing a stronger team considering.

Puel has a big enough squad not to be playing a player every four days but has to think smartly about playing a certain player at the right time, and so his team selection is sure to be one that will be much thought over.