Wednesday 26 April 2017

Claude Puel hopes to build Southampton confidence despite Jose Fonte standoff

Southampton's manager Claude Puel (left) has decided not to pick defender Jose Fonte (right) while the player sorts out his future
Southampton's manager Claude Puel (left) has decided not to pick defender Jose Fonte (right) while the player sorts out his future

Southampton manager Claude Puel is confident his side can take the momentum from their EFL Cup win over Liverpool into the Premier League clash at Burnley - but will again plan without captain Jose Fonte.

Nathan Redmond's first-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over the Reds in the semi-final first leg at St Mary's on Wednesday night.

The Saints, though, could have further extended their advantage ahead of the return leg at Anfield on January 25, when the south coast club aim to reach their first major final since 2003.

Portugal defender Fonte was again missing from the matchday squad, having also been omitted in the FA Cup third-round tie at Norwich, after it was revealed the 33-year-old had asked to leave.

Puel confirmed the player would not be involved for the trip to Turf Moor on Saturday, but refused to be drawn on whether there had been any bids, with West Ham said to be monitoring events.

"The situation for Jose is the same for the moment," Puel said at a press conference on Thursday.

"I don't comment of course on the situation of different possibilities with different clubs, but for the moment we stay with the same consideration about the situation.

"I prefer for the moment staying (with) Jose out of the team, to leave him the opportunity to study different solutions for him and for us to stay focused about all the players who are available to start in the team."

Asked directly whether West Ham had put in an offer, the Saints boss replied: " I cannot make a comment about for the moment what is speculation.

"It is just things between him, the clubs and Southampton."

Puel sees no reason why his side cannot head to Turf Moor looking to deliver what would be a first Premier League win since December 18.

"It was important to make such a good game for us against strong players, it was important to provide this answer, which will of course be good for confidence," said Puel, who will check on the fitness of midfielder Steven Davis, who came off during the closing stages against Liverpool.

"We had lost 3-0 (against Liverpool) on Boxing Day and it was important to correct this. Now we must stay focused about our Premier League game against Burnley.

"But showing we have the ability and quality to play this type of game against Liverpool is important for the squad.

"Now it is important to keep this level and continue our work because we have lost points in the Premier League and we have to come back with a good answer."

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