English Premiership

United rumours won't distract Fonte

2016-08-17 18:50
Jose Fonte (AFP)

London - Southampton manager Claude Puel is confident rumours linking captain Jose Fonte with a move to Friday's opponents Manchester United won't stop the Portugal defender concentrating on the task at hand.

Fonte was a key member of the Portugal side that won Euro 2016 and is understood to be a target for several major clubs, including a United team managed by compatriot Jose Mourinho.

However, Puel said the timing of the speculation was "strange", coming just days before the first Friday night Premier League game of the season at Old Trafford.

"There is no problem with Jose, it is just strange that this rumour comes just before the game at United," Puel said Wednesday.

"There is a possibility that he may travel with us to Old Trafford," the 54-year-old Frenchman added.

"But he is a very good professional and he has played well in training sessions this week and it is important to have Jose with us, I hope, for the United game.

"Jose has good experience, so he cannot be disturbed by this rumour but I am just surprised to hear this before the game, two days before the match. But Jose is our captain and I'm sure he will be completely ready for this game."

South-coast club Southampton have won their last two matches at Old Trafford but they now face a new-look United side featuring the likes of world-record signing Paul Pogba and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"Their players have changed, their manager has changed and Southampton's view of this team has changed," said Puel. "They have made a good start to the season.

"I don't know (if the team will have good memories) but my players will be ready for the game and I hope they can improve step by step for the future.

"Against Watford (in last week's 1-1 draw) I didn't like the first half because we didn't play our game but the second half you can see another team and we improved and played our game."

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01 October 2016
Swansea City v Liverpool, Liberty Stadium 13:30
West Ham United v Middlesbrough, Olympic Stadium 16:00
Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion, Stadium of Light 16:00
Hull City v Chelsea, The KC Stadium 16:00
Watford v Bournemouth, Vicarage Road 16:00
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Manchester United v Stoke City, Old Trafford 13:00
Leicester City v Southampton, King Power Stadium 15:15
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City, White Hart Lane 15:15
Burnley v Arsenal, Turf Moor 17:30
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Stoke City v Sunderland, Britannia Stadium 16:00
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