Southampton are hoping for a much more stable season this term under Mark Hughes, after a disappointing campaign last year.
The Saints have spent this summer to draft in the likes of Jannik Vestergaard and Mohamed Elyounoussi, while a Deadline Day deal was completed yesterday for the services of Danny Ings on loan from Premier League rivals Liverpool.
Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the club’s pre-season campaign.
Winner: Danny Ings
It may seem strange that the man set to benefit most from pre-season is a player who is yet to kick a ball for Southampton but that is the case for Danny Ings, after it became clear the Saints desperately need an attacking boost.
Before the arrival of the former Burnley man, Southampton looked extremely toothless in the final third and were left crying out for a player to provide an impact – which may work in Ings’ favour, as he’s looking to get his career back-on-track after numerous injury problems during his spell at Anfield.
That is a concern for Southampton, as there is no guarantees he will remain fit, which could leave fans praying throughout the campaign.
“The two clubs obviously had to come to an arrangement where they were comfortable with the deal on offer and in the end we got to the point where it was a win win situation for both clubs and, more importantly, for Danny as well, because he’s come to a club he’s clearly got a lot of affection for and maybe a point to prove.”
Loser: Wesley Hoedt
A regular in defence throughout pre-season, Wesley Hoedt was arguably the worst performer of the lot for Southampton and is leaves Mark Hughes with a major decision to make ahead of tomorrow’s opening clash against Burnley.
Many fans are calling for Ryan Bertrand to play centrally, providing more opportunities for Matt Targett down the left side, and that could materialise after he remained at the club on Deadline Day despite continued interest from Fulham.
The signing of Vestergaard could also lead to decreased opportunities for the Dutch defender, who played 28 matches for the Saints last term.