CLAUDE Puel labelled Maya Yoshida "fantastic" and "a captain" for Saints.

The Japanese defender's stock has risen considerably this season, having played a central role since Virgil van Dijk's injury and Jose Fonte's exit.

On Wednesday night the central defender, 28, netted his first Premier League goal of the campaign, the winning strike in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.

With Yoshida's contract expiring in the summer of 2018, Puel was asked in his press conference if his performances this term warranted a new deal.

"We will see with calm between the two parties," he said.

"Maya has got to participate in the future of Southampton,” he added. "He’s a strong player. Maya was not also a starting player last season, but this season he’s fantastic and improved.

"For me he’s another captain of the team. After Virgil [van Dijk] and after Davo [Steven Davis], we have a captain in Maya and this is important.

"Bertrand is also a good man and another captain for the squad, but the level of Maya is fantastic this season."

With Yoshida and Jack Stephens forming a good partnership at centre-back, free agent Martin Caceres has not yet made his debut.

The 29-year-old form Juventus and Barcelona man was brought in nearly two months ago, but has not played.

Puel is keeping him mind for an appearance against West Brom.

"We will see how different players recover," he said. "I don’t know yet.

"I hope Martin can participate with the team. He’s had good training sessions and he can do good work."