Hasenhüttl admits "difficult decisions" for season opener

By SFC Media Thu 08 Aug Burnley v Saints
Photo by James Bridle | Ralph Hasenhüttl

Ralph Hasenhüttl admits he has some tough decisions to make on who should start Southampton’s Premier League opener at Burnley on Saturday.

The boss has been encouraged by the form of his team over an unbeaten pre-season, particularly the evolving understanding between his attacking players, but says his selection is not yet decided for the game at Turf Moor.

New signings Ché Adams and Moussa Djenepo are in contention to make their competitive debuts, though the winger only started training with his new teammates last week following his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations with Mali.

“I have to take a few difficult decisions about who should be in the 18 and who should be in the XI,” he said.

“I think a lot of players deserve to be in this squad, and there are still one or two positions where I am not completely sure, but in the end, everybody knows their chance will come.

“Scoring in pre-season was not the biggest problem for us, but it’s only pre-season. The first game in the Premier League is something completely different.

“They (the attacking players) know what they have to do to get a good balance together – opposite runs, how to play together, working against the ball… we worked a lot in this part of the game.

“Ché Adams had the big advantage that he was here from the beginning of pre-season and that helps him a lot. For Moussa, it is a little bit more difficult and it will take time to bring him into the squad.

“He has shown in the first two weeks he has a lot of skills that can help us. For the tactical skills, I think he needs more automatism, but he is open minded and very positive. He’s a good character and I like him.

“We have Michael Obafemi who showed up in the pre-season and Shane Long, who doesn’t want to step back, and Stuey (Armstrong) and Sofiane (Boufal), who is back with a lot of quality. These positions are the ones with the biggest battle so far.”

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