Saints hit by stopper absence

Southampton boss Claude Puel will be without Ryan Bertrand for his first Premier League game when his side face Watford at St Mary’s.

Southampton: Saints hit by stopper absenceSouthampton: Saints hit by stopper absence

The 27-year-old England left-back picked up a knee injury in training following his return from Euro 2016.

Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares are doubts despite making a return to training this week, but Saints will be boosted by influential central defender Virgil van Dijk’s recovery from a knock.

Southampton could hand debuts to summer signings Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jeremy Pied and Nathan Redmond against a Watford side who also have a new manager at the helm in Walter Mazzarri.

Puel, who is looking forward to getting to season up and running, said: “It is an exciting moment for me and it is the same for the players.

“It is the first game. It is always a special day. It is important for the players and the fans.

“Watford has a new manager and new players.

“It will be a challenge, they can play in different systems and can challenge with defenders.

“They have different possibilities but I will concentrate on us, it is more important for us to stay in possession.”

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