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Puel expects Fonte to stay

Claude Puel expects Jose Fonte to remain a Southampton player despite rumoured interest in the Saints captain.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Claude Puel expects Jose Fonte to stay at Southampton amid reported interest in the Saints captain.

Fonte returned from Euro 2016 triumph two weeks ago and has since been rumoured to be a target for Manchester United among other clubs. In his first press conference as Southampton boss, Claude Puel said that Fonte is a very important player and that he expected the defender to stay.

He said: "The transfer window is difficult for the club and the players. For Southampton, it’s important to keep Jose [Fonte]. He is a player that is very important for the team, a good player.

"I don’t think there’s a possibility for Jose to leave us. I am sure he can play the next games with a good spirit because he is a very good professional. When I see him on the pitch, he’s very interesting with a good attitude and a good professional."

Another player that Puel was full of praise for was Nathan Redmond. When asked about losing the club's two top goal scorers from last campaign, the Saints boss revealed how impressed he's been with Saints' first summer signing.

Redmond has been played predominantly as a winger in his career so far but since joining the club, Puel has seen the former Norwich City man as a potential striker.

"Nathan Redmond is a very, very good player. He played with Norwich on a wide position.

"I think he’s a very good striker. He can shoot, he can dribble and make different things like a very good striker. It’s a good surprise for me."

Redmond will get to play in the Europa League again this season, after previously getting to feature in the competition for Birmingham City earlier in his career. Puel said that to maintain good form both domestically and in Europe, Saints will need to play with more control than they did under Ronald Koeman.

"We worked this pre-season to have more control of the game with more possession because in September, October and November we’ll have to play a lot of games – every three days. It’s very difficult. It’s the first time for Southampton and these players to play a lot of games.

"It’s important to keep this spirit and this good attitude but also to have more control of the game to keep energy to have the possibility to play every three days.

"If our football is good, you can take pleasure and give pleasure to our fans."

Puel also confirmed that Ryan Bertrand will miss the first game of the season with a minor knee injury and hopes he'll be available for the next game against Manchester United. The Frenchman also said that he'll decide what involvement Cedric and Jose Fonte will have tomorrow after the Portuguese duo returned later than the rest of the squad to pre-season.