Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that James Ward-Prowse returned to training on Thursday and could play against Burnley on Saturday.
Ward-Prowse picked up a bad cut on his knee in the FA Cup replay loss to Spurs just eight days ago, with Hasenhuttl confirming post-match that his midfielder’s leg bone was visible after a collision with Ryan Sessegnon.
However, it appears that Saints’ key man could be in contention this weekend after just over a week of recovery.
Speaking to the media in his pre-match press conference, Hasenhuttl said:
“Today was his (Ward-Prowse’s) first time out on the pitch – we tried to to keep him out there as long as possible. Players always like to come back onto the pitch and he handled it well I think. There is the potential of the cut coming open again, but it looks good and hopefully he can play at the weekend.”
This is great news for Saints considering that, up until he went off against Spurs, Ward-Prowse had played every minute of every game this season.
His energy and ability to press in midfield gives Hasenhuttl’s setup a superb balance and his main strengths compliment those of midfield partner Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
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Ward-Prowse had been filling in at right-back after the sale of Cedric Soares to Arsenal, but it appears that he will be able to return to his favoured position now.
This is because Hasenhuttl also confirmed that both Yan Valery and January loan signing Kyle Walker-Peters are both available, meaning that Saints are at full strength for the visit of Burnley on Saturday.
Because of other options coming back into contention, it may be a wise move for Hasenhuttl to let Ward-Prowse sit this one out on the bench and let Oriol Romeu continue in central-midfield.
The Saints boss did mention in his conference that it was important to manage the England international’s situation carefully to make sure his injury heals well.
Burnley will be without both Ashley Barnes and Johann Berg Gudmundsson as they travel to the South Coast, with Clarets boss Sean Dyche confirming the duo are continuing their rehab from long-term issues.
Dyche also provided an update on full-backs Charlie Taylor and Matt Lowton, who will face late fitness tests to see if they can start at St Mary’s. Josh Brownhill will be in contention though after joining from Bristol City in January.
Saints and Burnley met on the opening day of the current 2019/20 season, with the Clarets running out convincing 3-0 winners in the end.