RALPH Hasenhuttl revealed James Ward-Prowse is in contention to play against Burnley on Saturday.

The midfielder was stretchered off with a nasty cut to his leg during the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Tottenham.

But with the mid-season break giving the 25-year-old’s wound time to heal, Hasenhuttl expects him to return to the starting XI.

He said: “Today was his first day out on the pitch and we tried to keep him out there for as long as possible.

“Players always like to come back on the pitch and he has handled it well, but we must pay attention to make sure the cut is not going to open again.

“I think it looks good that, hopefully, he can play at the weekend.

“We don’t want it to get worse so that he is out. We must pay attention to it.

“It looks good and he is an important player for our team. We have a few more options which means he can go back to his No 6 position.

“We have Kyle back who can play for the first time and Yan Valery is back.

“The squad is very balanced at the moment and we have two players in every position.

“This doesn’t make it easy for me, but the players can see we are balanced.”

Kyle Walker-Peters is yet to feature for Saints since joining on loan from Spurs until the end of the season.

Hasenhuttl wanted to give the right-back sufficient time to get up to speed with the St Mary’s side’s way of playing.

Asked if he’s ready to make his debut against Burnley this weekend, Saints’ manager responded: “I think so, yes.

“He has trained now for two weeks and shown that he can help us.

“He has learnt our habits and behaviours which is important for him. It’s another good option that I have.”

The players weren’t the only ones given time off during the winter break, with Hasenhuttl also going in search of the sun.

However, the Austrian admitted he’d have preferred the time off a little bit earlier.

He added: “It was a very busy period over Christmas and I think it was a good thing.

“We had the game during the week which wasn’t perfect but it’s still there and they are now full of energy. They are happy, and I think it is a good thing for the Premier League.

“Maybe we can think about making the break a little bit earlier, maybe at the end of the window, so we can concentrate on the players and have more time to do this.

“But maybe we can talk about this schedule at the end of the season with the FA Cup but, in the end, it was important for my players.”