Pochettino: Immediate focus is on getting injured stars back to action

Daily Echo: Mauricio Pochettino Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino will focus on driving a nucleus of recent absentees back to full form and fitness while uncertainty surrounds Saints' transfer policy and protocol.

Pochettino leads Saints into Barclays Premier League action at Sunderland tomorrow, a year on from taking the St Mary's helm.

Mentor and boss Nicola Cortese's resignation on Wednesday night could well see manager Pochettino leave St Mary's in the summer.

The former Espanyol boss has pledged himself to Saints until the end of the season, but offered no further assurances.

Owner and now interim non-executive chairman Katharina Liebherr has vowed to recruit a chief executive to replace the 45-year-old Cortese.

Meanwhile, Saints' limbo leaves a host of top talents potentially vulnerable to poaching from Premier League rivals.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are circling defender Luke Shaw, with West Ham targeting England striker Rickie Lambert.

Pochettino is unsure who currently handles Saints' transfer business, but said he will focus his attention elsewhere.

"We've got to concentrate on the group of players we can bring back to fitness and assimilate back into the squad and the team," he said.

"Artur Boruc and Guly Do Prado are still coming back from injuries and we need to make sure Victor Wanyama can do the same quickly."

Full-back Calum Chambers should be available for the Sunderland trip after illness, with striker Dani Osvaldo still missing as he completes his three-match ban for violent conduct in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle in December.

Pochettino has been at pains to reassure his squad about the future, at least short-term, and is battling for calm ahead of the Wearside clash.

He will press for more information from Liebherr in the next fortnight, but said there is no opportunity before tomorrow's lunchtime Sunderland fixture.

"It is only natural that everyone would be reacting to all this," he said.

"It is hard to predict what the effect on the players will be.

"It's clear that it may affect the players as they all have varying degrees of relationship with Nicola Cortese, and of course his leaving may affect us in some way.

"In those situations it's clear that maybe some minds will be focused on what happened on Wednesday, rather than on Sunderland. But we have to be professional.

"We have to be fully focused on the game on Saturday and, as always, try to get a positive result."

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