Monday 24 July 2017

Puel plans to give chances to fringe Southampton strikers in Austin's absence

Claude Puel, pictured, is not tempted to rush into the transfer window next month despite Charlie Austin's lengthy injury
Claude Puel, pictured, is not tempted to rush into the transfer window next month despite Charlie Austin's lengthy injury

Southampton manager Claude Puel does not intend to panic buy in the January transfer window to replace injured frontman Charlie Austin and will allow other players an opportunity to show what they can do.

Austin is expected to have surgery on a shoulder problem suffered in last week's Europa League tie against Hapoel Be'er Sheva which would likely sideline him for the best part of 12 weeks.

Sofiane Boufal, the club's £21million record summer signing, was on target as Saints beat Middlesbrough 1-0 at St Mary's Stadium on Sunday.

Jay Rodriguez had started up front before Shane Long came off the bench in the second half.

Puel feels it is now important to allow the rest of the squad to help fill the void left by the loss of Austin, who was the leading scorer with nine goals.

"Charlie will have to make surgery on his shoulder and normally would be between three or four months out, but n ow it is important to look forwards and to give the possibilities to other players , like Shane or Jay," Puel said at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

"It is important now that they can take the responsibility, it is a good opportunity for other players.

"I think it is important for the moment to stay with a good concentration on our game until the end of the year, after we will see what will come in January.

"We have strikers and offensive players, so it is important to give them confidence and I like these players.

"It is important they can play now with all of the confidence of the team and staff.

"We must respect all of the players of my squad."

Puel added: " A (transfer) market is a market - and we don't know what can happen.

"It's important to consider my squad and to make progress with all these experienced players and young players.

"We will see with calm in January.

"I think it's not time to speak about these possibilities."

Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse, meanwhile, has called for togetherness after some fans booed during the win over Boro.

Puel's men currently sit 10th in the Premier League as they prepare for Wednesday's trip to Stoke and now face a crucial month with matches ahead against sides around them in the table.

"This is a time for everyone to pull together and stick together. We have to look forward to the next game and make sure that we are all backing each other," Ward-Prowse told Saints Live.

"The club is all about unity and togetherness and we all have to do that through the good times and the bad times.

"Obviously there are going to be the good times this season and there are going to be the bad times but we have to make sure that we keep plugging away at reaching our goals."

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