Monday 23 October 2017

Saints boss Claude Puel plans to cut Andy Carroll's supply line

Andy Carroll has scored five goals since returning from injury
Andy Carroll has scored five goals since returning from injury

Southampton boss Claude Puel has a simple way of stopping Andy Carroll - don't let him have the ball.

West Ham striker Carroll has returned from injury in superb form by hitting five goals in two months.

The big frontman might be licking his lips at taking on a makeshift Southampton central defence on Saturday, with Virgil van Dijk injured and Jose Fonte having joined the Hammers before the transfer deadline.

But Puel plans to cut the supply line in order to starve Carroll of the chances upon which he thrives.

"It's difficult to take him because he is so strong and we know his quality," said the Frenchman.

"It's important to win duels with good presence around the second ball, and always to defend with good cover.

"But we should not just try to win those duels. We need a good work habit and not to get just one player in duels.

"The most important thing is to keep the ball. If we keep the ball they cannot play it long or make crosses.

"We know this team, they have come back well in the table lately. They are a good opponent with confidence and we have to play a strong game."

Fonte will be making a swift return to St Mary's following his £8million switch to West Ham.

His debut did not go entirely according to plan, as Fonte gave away a penalty in a 4-0 thrashing by Manchester City.

But the Portugal international spent seven successful years with Saints, helping them climb from League One to the Premier League, and Puel hopes he gets a decent reception.

"We cannot have regrets, when Jose left the club it was a good moment for him," he said.

"I hope he comes back with good support from the fans, just at the beginning of the game, and then all the support for our team.

"He did fantastic work for many years, he was an important player."

Despite reaching the EFL Cup final Southampton 's form has nosedived - they have taken just three points from a possible 18 and were dumped out of the FA Cup 5-0 at home to Arsenal.

Some supporters have vented their frustrations, but Puel said: " It's normal that the fans are not happy, it's the same with the squad.

"It's important to find solutions with this team who have a capacity to do fantastic games.

"We have to correct all this and find a good balance."

Puel will check on the fitness of new striker Manolo Gabbiadini before deciding whether to hand the Italy international an immediate debut.

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