Adam Lallana is desperate to return to the Saints team to face Manchester City this evening – but admits he doesn’t know if it will be as captain.

The midfielder has yet to start under new manager Mauricio Pochettino as he reaches for full fitness following the medial knee ligament injury he picked up on December 8.

He could be handed a first start under Nigel Adkins’ successor as Saints host the Premier League champions at St Mary’s but Lallana, who was named captain this season by the former manager, is unsure whether he will be retaining the armband under the new boss.

“I am not sure,” he said. “I am just eagerly looking forward to coming back.

“I am only 24 and that is not a massive issue. If I am, then great. If not, I will still give 100 per cent for the team.”

He added: “I have been itching to get back now the whole time.

“I’ve been there or thereabouts the last three or four weeks and I’ve made a couple appearances off the bench. I am fully fit and eagerly hoping to get some time from the start, whether I do, we will find out on Saturday.

“I was injured when Alan Pardew left the club and Adkins came in so I’ve experienced similar to this.

“It was frustrating because you want to get out there and prove to him your worth, really.

“He has been great and the language barrier is not an issue. You communicate fine and his assistant Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez can all speak English well.

“It is great and I am so far thoroughly enjoying my time under the gaffer.”

Lallana believes Pochettino has already “put his footprint” on the team in the few weeks he has been in charge.

Despite having not yet secured a first win in English football, the former Espanyol manager’s team have attracted plaudits from fans and pundits alike.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson even said Saints were the best team to have visited Old Trafford this season.

But Pochettino’s side lost on the night – something Lallana knows cannot continue.

More Saints news in today's Daily Echo