Ward-Prowse back in contention


Ralph Hasenhüttl has confirmed that James Ward-Prowse is likely to return to the starting XI, as Southampton kick off their 2021/22 Premier League campaign at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Ward-Prowse didn’t feature during Saints’ pre-season matches but has returned to training this week.

“He’s going to be OK,” the boss said on the captain. “He trained the whole week and I’m looking forward to having him back on Saturday.”

Saints’ only other injury concern is Will Smallbone, who has been on the sidelines since mid-January with a long-term injury.

“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.”

It’s been a busy pre-season for Saints both on and off the pitch, with Hasenhüttl making a number of important transfers in the build up to the 2021/22 season.

“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.”