Sunday 25 March 2018

Claude Puel ready to rotate Saints squad for domestic and European challenges

Charlie Austin scored twice in Southampton's midweek Europa League win
Charlie Austin scored twice in Southampton's midweek Europa League win

Claude Puel maintains he will need to call on every one of his Southampton squad if they are to do well in both Europe and the Premier League this season.

Striker Charlie Austin scored twice as the Saints opened their Europa League campaign with a 3-0 victory over Sparta Prague on Thursday night.

It was only Austin's second start of the season, in one of seven changes made by Puel to the team which were beaten 2-1 at Arsenal last weekend.

However, the French coach believes having such options throughout the squad can only serve them well in the challenges ahead, which continue when Swansea come to St Mary's Stadium on Sunday, with Saints still searching for a first Premier League win.

"This game was important for the result and also the confidence," said Puel a press conference on Friday afternoon.

"It was important to show Southampton have good young players, and the interesting possibility to make changes in game after game.

"This is important for the future with the many games we have to play. It is important to see the quality of the squad.

" All of the players are important in the squad. If we understand this and accept this, it is (a) winning (formula) for the squad, because it is not possible to play all of the games with 10 or 11 players.

"We can see yesterday the quality of the squad, it is not a problem for me with selection to change the team if the players keep this good spirit and attitude."

While Puel was impressed with the efforts of Austin, who won the penalty from which he gave them the lead and also had a header ruled out for offside, the Saints boss indicated he could mix things up again on Sunday.

"It is natural because Charlie played all the game, and it is important now for recovery and to have a different solution on the bench," he said.

"All of the players are ready to play, it is interesting."

Midfielder James Ward-Prowse played the full 90 minutes on Thursday night, having been a late substitute against Arsenal.

He said on the club's official website: "We know there is going to be rotation in the squad to deal with the amount of games we have.

"We are all professional players ready to do the job."

With a first win of his tenure secured, Puel is now focused on delivering three points against Swansea.

"Now it is the Premier League we have to do the good work and win games," he said.

"There has been a lot of disappointment and frustration after every game because I think we played good football with many chances, but at the end it was a loss or a draw. This is not interesting for the squad, they deserve to be rewarded."

Puel confirmed forward Jay Rodriguez, who came on as a late substitute against Sparta and scored in the final minute, will be assessed.

The Saints boss said: "There are no injuries - it is Jay Rodriguez, he felt something and we will see tomorrow, but there is no problem for the moment."

Press Association

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