Jose Fonte looks likely to come back into the Saints team for tomorrow night’s game against Manchester United with Claude Puel unconcerned about the transfer speculation surrounding his captain.

Fonte has been heavily linked with a move to United in recent days while Saints have been negotiating an improved contract with the centre half.

The club remain hopeful Fonte will put pen to paper soon on a new deal that will see his weekly salary rise following his Euro 2016 winning exploits.

Fonte was left out of the Saints side that drew 1-1 with Watford on the opening day of the season due to a lack of match sharpness after only getting 45 minutes of pre-season action due to his extended spell away with Portugal.

In the meantime the United links have refused to go away, but Puel has been happy with the response of his main man.

He said: “No problem with Jose. Just strange that this rumour just before the game against United. There is a possibility before United, it is strange.

“No problem with Jose. He’s a professional, he made good training sessions this week and it’s important to have Jose with us and I hope against United.”

He added: “Jose has good experience and is a good professional.

“I think also he cannot be disturbed for this story and this rumour.

“For me it’s just a rumour and it’s a surprise to see this against United two days before but it’s not a problem.

“Jose is our captain and it’s important to consider and I’m sure he will be completely ready with us for this game.”

The deal Saints are offering Fonte is a pay rise on the contract he already has which takes him through until 2018.

At this stage, given he is 32, the club are understood not to want to offer an extension.

The pay rise is believed to be a substantial one to put him amongst the higher earners in the squad.

As to whether Fonte would start against United, Puel was remaining coy.

“It’s better the last week but if he start or not I don’t like to give information,” he smiled.

“It’s not important, less important than United but we have a secret also.”

The only player definitely out of the United game is Ryan Bertrand, who remains sidelined through injury, meaning Matt Targett is expected to keep his spot at left back.

“Ryan Bertrand cannot play this game,” confirmed Puel.

“He has a little injury and he cannot participate this week in the training session and cannot participate in this game.”

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