Pied back in contention as Saints prepare for City test

Pied back in contention as Saints prepare for City test

After a campaign ruined by injury, Jeremy Pied is at last in contention to feature for Southampton, according to manager Claude Puel.

Kit Shepard

It's been a season to forget for Jeremy Pied, as a long-term knee injury just days after Southampton's opening Premier League game left him side-lined until very recently.

However, things are at last looking up for the right-back, with manager Claude Puel set to reward Pied for his hard work on the road to recovery with some game time before the end of the season.

A nightmare start

There were undoubtedly one or two eyebrows raised when Pied followed manager Puel from Nice to Southampton in the summer. Far from a household name, the 28-year-old was expected to be no more than first-choice right-back Cedric Soares' deputy, easing the Saints' task of competing on both domestic and European fronts in the coming campaign. 

Pied joined Southampton from Nice in the summer. Photo: Getty.

However, after a brief debut off the bench against Watford in Southampton's opening league encounter, disaster struck. In training, Pied sustained a horrendous knee injury, which thwarted his chances of building on what was a promising start to life on the South Coast, and triggering a tough journey back to first-team football over the dark, derelict winter months.

Reward deserved

Fast-forward 8 months or so, and Pied's recovery is almost complete. He returned to full training in March, and has since got some valuable minutes under his belt for Southampton's under-23 side. All that remains is to play at the top level again.

Puel has been full of nothing but praise for his fellow Frenchman, expressing how he has "come back very well... with hunger to want to play". The Saints boss believes that "he played very well with the under-23s and it was interesting to see him".

After being an unused substitute in Southampton's last two Premier League games, Puel's recognition of Pied's so far fantastic return suggests that an appearance for the first team is just around the corner.

Final sprint

Although the Saints are neither likely to be battling for Europe nor fighting relegation come the final day of the season, any notion that they can simply ease towards the end of the campaign will diminish when the fixture list is shown. 

The Saints have a very tough run-in. Photo: Getty.

After a couple of postponed matches, Southampton will play their remaining eight games in just over five weeks, and have to face-off against five of the current top six. Puel has highlighted the need to "to keep all the squad ready with a good attitude and good spirit" over this final difficult period.

With the Southampton manager showing on countless occasions this season that he is not afraid to rotate his side on the regular, Pied will surely have plenty of opportunities in the near future to prove that he is back to full fitness.