José Fonte has killed speculation of a player exodus from Saints this month.

In the aftermath of Nicola Cortese’s departure last week, there were reports that a host of first-team stars wished to follow the chairman out the door.

Yet Fonte revealed that, while the players were sad to see Cortese go, the mood in the dressing room remained upbeat.

He also explained that the squad felt reassured about the future after Mauricio Pochettino’s confirmation he is remaining as manager and owner Katharina Liebherr’s insistence that no one will be sold in this transfer window.

“The response is that everyone is happy here,” said the centre half, when asked about reports of players being upset and wanting to leave.

“Obviously, you’re going to feel disappointed, because Nicola was part of our past and he did amazing for us, he was the creator of the ‘Southampton Way’ and we’re here mainly because of him as well, because he put this plan together.

“We were sad, but life goes on, we are still under contract with the club, we’re professional.

“The manager is a big part as well of the club and a big influence. The fact he said he wants to stay just keeps everyone calm and we keep playing and doing what we do.

“It came out as well that the owner doesn’t want to sell anyone, so we keep going.”

Fonte also pointed out that the team’s performance in the 2-2 draw at Sunderland, particularly during a wonderful first half, had been a strong response to the week’s events.

“We showed that nothing affected us,” he said. “This group knows each other well enough, we are professionals, and we showed that, when business comes, we do the business.

“We showed great character and we played wonderfully at times, in the first half especially.”

The 30-year-old was understandably frustrated, however, that Saints had not left the Stadium of Light with all three points, despite a largely dominant display.

“We are disappointed in the dressing room,” he said. “We felt that we had done enough to win. Certainly we had the chances.

“You can say we conceded two soft goals. They didn’t have much else on target. Two soft goals from a defensive point of view, but we had a lot of chances to put the game to bed I think.

“So we’re disappointed not to get the three points, because we played better than them – much better.”

The loss of Gastón Ramírez and Dejan Lovren to potentially serious injuries was arguably the sourest note of the day at Sunderland for the visitors.

“That’s another thing that we need to address because it’s becoming repetitive the mistakes against us,” said Fonte, perhaps indicating he feels not enough protection is being afforded to some of the players during matches.

“I don’t know what to say, I don’t want to say nothing I shouldn’t, so I will just stay there and say it’s becoming repetitive.”