Southampton boss Claude Puel still unsure on his best starting line-up
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 01/12/16 11:47pm
Claude Puel admits he does not know Southampton's strongest team but says he prefers to rotate his starting line-ups.
Beyond consistently selecting Fraser Forster, Oriol Romeu and Virgil van Dijk, the Frenchman has regularly changed his starting team as he balances the side's involvement in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup.
Captain Jose Fonte has also been rotated and Puel was asked about the fact that the defender is yet to sign the contract he has been offered.
"I don't know my first team with 11 players. My first team has 22 or 23 different players and this is important for me," he said. "Jose has a contract and after I don't speak about the contract of the players.
"It's a story between the club and the player and this is private."
Fonte joined Southampton while they were in League One and has spoken of his ambition of representing the club in European competition but he has been rested from each of their five Europa League fixtures so far.
"For me all the players can play different competitions," Puel said. "There is not one player for this competition and another player for another. For me it is not this.
"It is to see and to respect the good physical level for every player and to find the good balance between players, to practise every time our identity.
"We can see [last Sunday's 1-0 win over] Everton; it was a fantastic game physically, the intensity of the players, and Jose also had a strong game.
"This is possible if every time they all have good energy, good physical levels and can play at their maximum."
Puel is again expected to make changes to his team when Southampton visit Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, with Matt Targett and Dusan Tadic still injured.
"It's important for the players to understand the philosophy and keep every time the good attitude," Puel said.
"The most important [thing] is to stay with good concentration about our level and to prepare this difficult game against Crystal Palace. It is not the situation of every player."