Martin Caceres hopes to avoid becoming the most expensive sub in Saints history by making a full first-team debut in the final weeks of the season.

The 30-year-old Uruguayan centre half joined Saints at the start of February, but has still to play for the first team, instead finding himself restricted to being an unused sub along with a handful of games with the club’s under-23s.

Caceres is contracted only until the end of the season, and it has been speculated in Italy that he is earning in the region of £700,000 for his stint at St Mary’s.

However, that has so far not proven huge value for money, as he has been stuck behind Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens in the Saints pecking order.

Saints boss Claude Puel has been asked as to whether Caceres is likely to play before the end of the season, but has been non-committal.

Puel has been impressed with Yoshida and Stephens, and there remains an outside chance that Virgil van Dijk could make it back before the final game next month.

If Caceres is to figure for Saints then time is quickly running out, with just seven Premier League matches left to come in this campaign.

His best hope appears to be the fixture congestion that awaits Saints in the finale to the season.

Saints have to play their final seven games in the space of just 27 days.

Though Puel did not rotate his centre halves the last time Saints played three times in the space of a week, such a hefty pile-up could well change his thinking.

Caceres will be desperate to get some game time to try and relaunch his career.

It is now well over a year since he last played a game, with an injury ruling him out for the closing stages of the last campaign when he was with Juventus.

Caceres was without a club for the first half of this season, until Saints swooped to bring him in.

At the point they were tying up the deal they had just lost to West Ham and fears were rife that the season was about to collapse, with the EFL Cup final on the horizon, Jose Fonte having departed and van Dijk ruled out.

Caceres’ arrival was delayed by the death of his brother, and that small break before he came in meant he was unable to play before the EFL Cup final, and therefore was a sub at Wembley, and he has found himself sat on the bench ever since.

The lack of game time suggests that Puel is not desperately keen on taking a good look at Caceres with a view to potentially offering him another contract this summer, but the player will want to prove himself, either to Saints or another club.