Mark Hughes says ''It's important fresh faces come in'' as pre-season tour gets underway

Southampton have been adding quality and strength to their side ahead of the new Premier League season.

Mark Hughes says ''It's important fresh faces come in'' as pre-season tour gets underway
(Photo by VCG)

Currently enjoying a pre-season tour of China in preparation for the 2018-19 season, Southampton have duly added numbers to their squad in the form of winger Mohamed Elyounoussi and midfielder Stuart Armstrong - both completing deals at the back end of last month.

Together, the pairing bring plenty of trophy-winning experience to Mark Hughes' squad with a combined total of twelve pieces of silverware between the two. 

Only Armstrong was involved in the club's ecstatic opener in China, a 3-3 draw with German outfit FC Schalke, being replaced at half-time for Sam Gallagher.

Meanwhile, Elyounoussi has only recently joined up with his new team-mates in Asia.

Up to this point, the duo have cost Southampton £23 million this summer transfer window, and Hughes intends on continuing to add new players to his squad.

“There’s an opportunity to bring players in''

The south coast-based club saw two first-team members exit at the end of last campaign, Florin Grados and Jeremy Pied, only the former has found a new employer since his contract expiration at St. Mary's.

Manager Mark Hughes, who also let flop striker Guido Carrillo depart - on loan to former Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino's Leganes, envisages the coming weeks as a chance to embrace change at St. Mary's to shake up and refreshen the squad.

He said: "It’s important fresh faces come in. It’s not necessarily deliberate but as a consequence of players moving on, contracts finishing.''

There is plenty of competition up for grabs in this Southampton team with almost every position having at least two players capable of starting a competitive match-up, and whilst many first-team members might see their chances limited during the new season, Hughes thinks it is a great asset to have numerous options.

The Saints boss said: “It’s good for the whole group just because new faces stimulate the group and players like to show each-other they’re good players, so when the new ones come in the ones here already up their game and the new ones want to impress.

You’d like to think everything rises as a consequence," he added.

“It’s good that they’re used to winning.''

Armstrong, who signed for a reported fee of £7 million from Celtic, is certainly one individual who knows what it is like to win on a consistent basis.

The 26-year-old Scotland international has won his country's top-flight on four occasions, with an additional four cup triumphs to add to his tally.

Whilst Elyounoussi has only picked up the Swiss League once but his experience in the Champions League is surely going to prove pivotal in Southampton's quest to finish in the top-half of the Premier League - something which Hughes recognises with great passion. 

''It’s good that they’re used to winning," said the Saints boss.

"They’re used to high profile games; they’ve both played in Champions League games."

He concluded: "They’ve performed well against Premier League teams in the Champions League, so I’m looking forward to them progressing their careers and developing further because they come to us as very good players but now we’ve got the platform for them to become even better.”

Quotes from Daily Echo