Belfast Telegraph

Claude Puel backs Southampton to cope without suspended Oriol Romeu

Claude Puel insists Southampton can boss the midfield at West Brom without the suspended Oriol Romeu.

Former Chelsea star Romeu will start a two-match ban on Saturday after collecting 10 yellow cards for the season.

The Saints could also be without Steven Davis if the Northern Ireland midfielder fails to beat his ankle problem, but manager Puel has remained unfazed by his side's injury concerns.

"We know the importance of Oriol of course," said Puel.

"But we have (Jordy) Clasie and (Pierre) Hojbjerg who have trained very well.

"They always have a good spirit and attitude and I have confidence in them.

"We don't know yet the situation of the injury with Davis but I have confidence in all my players.

"For all these last games we'll need all of the group. It's important for the players to keep a good attitude and spirit in training."

Southampton hit two late goals to sink Crystal Palace 3-1 at St Mary's on Wednesday night, with Puel now challenging his side to chase a top-eight Premier League finish.

Ninth-placed Saints trail West Brom in eighth by seven points, leaving Puel clear with his players that they must secure a result this weekend to keep pace with Tony Pulis' side.

Japan defender Maya Yoshida struck the decisive goal in Wednesday's last-gasp win over Palace, with Puel impressed with the centre-back's progress this term.

"Maya has got to participate in the future of Southampton," said Puel.

"He's a strong player. Maya was not a starting player last season but this season he's fantastic and improved.

"The level of Maya is fantastic this season."

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