Claude Puel keeping Jose Fonte out of Southampton first team as transfer rumours swirl
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 12/01/17 5:08pm
Claude Puel hopes Southampton can continue to build momentum against Burnley despite the continuing absence of Jose Fonte.
Southampton's captain was missing from the squad when they claimed a 1-0 lead over Liverpool in their EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old is looking for a move away from St Mary's but Puel remained silent when asked if any bids had been made for the Portugal international.
But he did say Fonte would remain away from his first-team plans while his future at the club remains in a state of limbo.
"The situation for Jose is the same for the moment," Puel said.
"I don't comment of course on the situation of different possibilities with different clubs, but for the moment we stay with the same consideration about the situation.
"I prefer for the moment staying [with] Jose out of the team, to leave him the opportunity to study different solutions for him and for us to stay focused about all the players who are available to start in the team."
Asked directly whether West Ham had put in an offer, the Saints boss added: "I cannot make a comment about for the moment what is speculation. It is just things between him, the clubs and Southampton."
Puel is hopeful Southampton can end a Premier League winless streak dating back to December 18 when they make the trip to Turf Moor.
And he was delighted to see his side play so well against an in-form Liverpool side, even though they missed a number of chances to add to their advantage.
"It was important to make such a good game for us against strong players, it was important to provide this answer, which will of course be good for confidence," Puel added.
"We had lost 3-0 [against Liverpool] on Boxing Day and it was important to correct this. Now we must stay focused about our Premier League game against Burnley.
"But showing we have the ability and quality to play this type of game against Liverpool is important for the squad.
"Now it is important to keep this level and continue our work because we have lost points in the Premier League and we have to come back with a good answer."