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Southampton v Sparta Prague: Visit of England rugby's Eddie Jones will help Saints, says Puel

By Declan Warrington

Southampton's preparations for tonight's Europa League visit of Sparta Prague have included a visit from England rugby head coach Eddie Jones.

The Australian visited the club's training ground yesterday and, though he was there for his own experience, he had a conversation with manager Claude Puel and his first-team squad.

Frenchman Puel remains fond of rugby having been born in Castres. His father played the sport and he is friends with coaches Bernard Laporte of Toulon and Pierre Berbizier of Racing Metro.

He said of Jones' visit: "It was a good meeting, a good man and a good trainer. It's interesting to meet him, and to discuss together, for example, tactics in rugby. There's a similarity with football.

"It is a good thing (to observe and learn from others sports). It is interesting to see the similar tactics and to discuss and take ideas from different sports."

Southampton remain without £16m record signing Sofiane Boufal and Jeremy Pied, but Puel is already targeting Europa League football next season.

"I hope to play next year too," he said. "You need to play football. It's not enough to just wait for the ball and counter-attack."

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