Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse is set for a return to the Saints starting XI against Everton on Saturday.
Saints kick off their 2021-22 Premier League campaign on Saturday afternoon at Goodison Park, but it looked like Ward-Prowse would be unavailable after picking up a knock in a pre-season friendly.
Ward-Prowse had been unable to train in the weeks that followed, nor appear in any subsequent games ahead of the league’s start on 14 August.
However, Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl today confirmed that Ward-Prowse has been in training this week and is set for a return.
“He’s going to be OK,” said Hasenhuttl in his pre-match press conference. “He trained the whole week and I’m looking forward to having him back on Saturday.”
The only confirmed absentee for Saints against Everton is Will Smallbone, who has been out with a knee injury since January.
“Will is still recovering and so far not with the team, hopefully he’ll also come back in the future but it’ll take a little bit more time.
“Everybody else is fit. 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.”
Hasenhuttl appears as happy with his pre-season preparations as much as he is with his player options following a number of acquisitions over the summer.
The Austrian coach indicates that Romain Perraud and Tino Livramento are ready to feature, but the signings that arrived this week could take some time before they set foot on the pitch in Saints colours.
“The size of the squad is much better than last season, we have more quality definitely and more numbers.
“Some players have been here since the first day of the 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.”