Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has revealed he hopes James Ward-Prowse will be fit to play in their Premier League opener on Saturday.
Saints travel to Everton as the new season gets underway, and after missing pre-season through injury, Ward-Prowse looked doubtful to be ready.
The English midfielder has been the subject of transfer speculation over the summer, with Aston Villa having a bid rejected, whilst it has been reported Tottenham are keen in the set piece specialist.
But in his pre-match press conference, the Austrian said his skipper ‘is going to be OK’ ahead of the trip to Goodison Park.
“Prowsey is a guy everybody wants to have,” he told the media. “But I don’t see a scenario where he won’t be with us for this year.
“He is our captain, he feels good here and we feel good with him here. He has a four-year contract so he isn’t like the others (last year of their current deal).
Skipper could feature
“He’s going to be OK. He trained the whole week and I’m looking forward to having him back on Saturday.
“After a tough and hard pre-season this is a good signal. We worked good with them, we had a good balance of pushing them hard and also recovering in the right moment.”
It’s been a more eventful pre-season for the Saints both on and off the pitch, but despite the departure of some big-name players, Hasenhuttl believes his squad are in a better place this season than at the start of the previous campaign.
'Size of the squad is much better'
Gone are the likes of Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand, with Jannik Vestergaard also on his way out of St. Mary’s, and whilst Saints have looked to replace them with the likes of Romain Perraud and Adam Armstrong, many neutrals believe the Saints will struggle.
“The size of the squad is much better than last season, we have more quality definitely and more numbers,” added the Saints boss.
“Some players have been here since the first day of pre-season like Romain (Perraud), I think for him it’s not difficult, he’s now been here for six weeks. He knows everything, he has trained with us, he has played with us.
“Tino Livramento, also OK. For Adam (Armstrong) and (Armando) Broja it’s a little bit more difficult, now they are stepping in before the first game. I think it’ll take a little bit longer, we are busy showing them our philosophy and working with them everyday to get them in a good mental shape also.
“The time will come quickly where they will also have to play.”