Ralph Hasenhuttl has not ruled out the possibility of Saints making a signing before the close of the transfer window but remains focussed on his plan to dramatically reduce the size of the squad.

The Saints manager currently has a full 25-man Premier League squad of senior stars, with the youngsters Hasenhuttl has used like Yan Valery, Josh Sims, Tyreke Johnson, Callum Slattery and Kayne Ramsay on top of that as they are listed as under-21s.

However, he would prefer to work with a squad of 18-20 players with the remainder made up of youngsters coming in and out of the first team picture as they progress during the season.

Asked what his optimum squad size for Saints would be, he replied: “I think not more than 20 – or 18 – and the rest with young players.

“We have the chance to teach them, the chance to have an eye on them, to show them they are part of our training group. That’s enough.

“Maybe if you have only one challenge in the year, like the Premier League, OK there are two cup competitions, but if you have only one competition it’s enough to have 18 and maybe a few young players behind.”

It has been a very quiet January transfer window in general throughout the Premier League.

Though there is likely to be some movement in the final days it is generally not expected that all that much will happen with the market typically difficult in the middle of the season.

For Saints it has always been a case of needing to move players on before they can sign, both from a financial perspective and a practical sense too with Hassenhuttl concerned about having a cumbersome number of senior professionals at the club, especially with only a drawn-out run-in to the end of the Premier League season now remaining.

Saints have managed to sell Manolo Gabbiadini in January, but their other exits have just been loan deals, which doesn’t do much to free up space for long-term signings.

For all of that, Hasenhuttl still hasn’t entirely ruled out the possibility of recruiting somebody if all the pieces come together but is also content to stick with what he’s got if he isn’t convinced it is totally right.

“I think the team has shown that there is more potential in each player than maybe the people outside are thinking,” he reckoned.

“They deserve to trust them that they can do it and that they can make it better.

“But if we have the chance to find a player who can help us immediately and in the future it can also be an option that we do it. It must be a package that is 100 per cent fitting to us.”