After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Southampton will be eager for a positive start to the Premier League season at home to Burnley on Sunday.
While Mark Hughes’ side will face their first competitive clash after a busy pre-season, Sean Dyche’s charges have already come through three Europa League qualifiers – progressing past Aberdeen over two legs, before a 0-0 draw with Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir earlier this week.
Burnley made just three signings ahead of the new campaign, snapping up Ben Gibson (£15million, Middlesbrough), Joe Hart (£3.5m, Manchester City) and Matej Vydra (£9m, Derby).
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 10, 2018
Southampton arguably needed more reinforcements, and moved to sign Stuart Armstrong (£7m, Celtic), Mohamed Elyounoussi (£16m, Basel), Angus Gunn (£10m, Manchester City), Jannik Vestergaard (£18m, Borussia Monchengladbach) and Danny Ings (loan, Liverpool).
Looking back at his side’s European exploits, Dyche – who was without Chris Wood, Robbie Brady, Steven Defour, Tom Heaton and Anders Lindegaard – made a point of praising his players.
“We had to piece together a team and all credit to the players for putting in a shift and delivering,” said Dyche.
“We are missing players at the moment and the players have been in awkward positions, we’ve had to change the team and play people out of position and they have still given everything to get a result.”
PREMIER LEAGUE | Two days to go… pic.twitter.com/To1DO6dOjd
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) August 10, 2018
Meanwhile, Hughes hopes new signing Danny Ings is fit enough to be considered for selection this weekend.
Hughes said: “Clearly there’s great enthusiasm from him and he wants to be a part of the opening game. He’s fit and well and has trained and had game-time in pre-season. We’ll see how he goes but he’s certainly an option for me.”
Ings could play for Southampton alongside new recruits Gunn, Vestergaard, Elyounoussi and Armstrong. Soares is fit following a short illness.
Joe Hart could keep his place for Burnley after his goalless debut on Thursday although Tom Heaton has recovered from his calf injury as Nick Pope remains out after an operation on his dislocated shoulder.
Chris Wood could return following an infection while Gibson and Vydra are not expected to play, but Robbie Brady and Steven Defour are both definitely out.