Football

Mohammed Salisu: Southampton boss Hasenhuttl praises Ghanaian’s fitness

The Saints manager sheds light on the young centre-back ahead of Thursday’s FA Cup clash with Wolves 

Fit-again Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu will be handed a starting berth when Southampton play as guests of Wolves in the FA Cup on Thursday, club boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has revealed.

The fifth round showdown at Molineux is set to be the centre-back’s debut appearance for The Saints since sealing a transfer from Spanish fold Real Valladolid in August last year.

He has had to bide his time owing to injury setbacks and match fitness concerns.

“This is the fittest he ever was, so far. He will be available to start on Thursday, yes,” Hasenhuttl told HampshireLive.

“This was the plan, it didn’t work the first time [against Shrewsbury]. Let’s hope it works now.”

After joining Southampton training in September 2020, Salisu made Hasenhuttl’s matchday squad for the first time in December, accruing a total of seven bench appearances for the club in the Premier League before sustaining another injury ahead of an FA Cup fixture against Shrewsbury Town in January.

“We see more and more players joining us, more and more players coming back – we need this as we are still in a busy time of the season,” Hasenhuttl said in his team news on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s fixture.

“We have Kyle Walker-Peters back and Mohammed Salisu now able to play.

“We still have five injured players but it’s getting better, the squad is getting bigger now and it’s giving me more opportunities.

“The more alternatives we have the more we can rotate in the next games and this is what we will have to do because the last thing we need is injuries. We must really take care of them.”

Southampton beat French side Stade Rennais to Salisu’s signature last year while Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United also said to have shown interest in the Accra-born.

The Ghanaian burst onto the scene last season with a string of fine performances for Valladolid in La Liga, tallying a total of 31 appearances involving 30 starts. He registered his only goal in a 2-0 victory over Eibar.

Keenly monitoring developments at St. Mary’s, Ghana coach CK Akonnor could call up the 21-year-old for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe next month. 

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