The Inside Track: Swansea City

By SFC Media time Thu 10 Aug Saints v Swansea
Photo by Getty Images

Get the lowdown on Southampton's opening day opponents from Wales Online's Swansea City reporter Andrew Gwilym.

What have the changes been at Swansea City this summer?

Head coach Paul Clement has had his first pre-season at the helm and is starting to mould together the squad he wants to take forward.

The likes of Borja Baston, Bafetimbi Gomis and Jordi Amat have been let go, and the exciting Tammy Abraham and Roque Mesa have been among the arrivals.

There could well be more changes to come, but those look likely to have to wait until there is some sort of resolution with regards to Gylfi Sigurdsson's future.

The Iceland international has been a key figure for Swansea, if he is to leave then bringing in high-calibre players to help replace him will be a must.

How has pre-season gone for the team?

It's been pretty solid and steady. Swansea were beaten at Barnet in their first pre-season fixture, but have won three and drawn two since, including a 4-0 win over Sampdoria.

A 10-day trip to the United States gave Clement and his staff plenty of opportunity to get plenty of work into the players and the squad seem to have relished the experience, praising the clarity shown by their coaches.

Clement felt his players had been a little behind where he would ideally have liked, but felt there had been a step forward against Sampdoria so they look to be in decent shape.

What have you made of the business Swansea have done in the transfer market?

They have moved on players that needed to be moved on and Abraham and Mesa look to be quality additions to the squad, the on-loan Chelsea striker has looked particularly sharp since joining up with his new team-mates.

It might take them a little bit of time to fully adjust to the Premier League but the initial signs are encouraging.

More additions are expected before the end of the window, but the ongoing Sigurdsson saga means some of those moves are still pending.

How do you expect the team to operate?

Swansea finished last season playing with a midfield diamond, and it proved highly successful as they escaped the drop.

They won four and drew one of their final five games using the system, and it has been regularly used during pre-season.

It gives Clement the protection for the back four he likes to have, while also allowing his front three the freedom to interchange and spread defences.

The big question is likely to be who plays in the number 10 role, with Wayne Routledge appearing the most likely candidate after an intelligent outing against Sampdoria. Abraham will start up front with Fernando Llorente injured.

Who do you think will prove to be key for Swansea this season?

While Llorente and Sigurdsson stole the headlines last season, the role of Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez in Swansea's survival should not be overlooked.

When the pair played together for the first time in January, Swansea had the worst defensive record in the league and a goal difference of minus 23.

Come the end of the season they had kept a number of clean sheets and the goal difference was only marginally worse than it had been in January (-25).

Additionally, skipper Leon Britton remains a vital figure on and off the field.

What do you feel the fans expectations are for the campaign?

I think most Swansea fans would be happy to see a comfortable mid-table finish without any major concerns over relegation. The Swans have spent the last two seasons battling the drop, if you flirt with it too often the consequences can be dire and Paul Clement's men will want to avoid that by making a good start to the campaign.

The ongoing uncertainty over Sigurdsson is a concern, and further additions are needed, but Clement worked wonders at the end of last season and if Swansea can get good business done between now and the end of August there is no reason a better season should not lie ahead.

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