JAN Bednarek hailed the proposed return of supporters to football stadia from next week as "great news", adding: "There is going to be some joy from people."

Following today's announcement regarding England's new regional tier system, which will be rolled out next week following the end of the country's second national lockdown, Southampton has been placed in tier two, meaning Saints will be permitted to allow supporters back into St Mary's.

Saints have confirmed they "intend to welcome a maximum of 2,000 fans back to St Mary’s" for the fixture with Sheffield United on Sunday, December 13.

It would be the first time supporters have been permitted to enter the stadium since March.

Brighton & Hove Albion, who Saints face on December 7, are also in a tier two area, meaning they too can have 2,000 fans in the first match after the lockdown ends on Wednesday.

The new measures are set to be reviewed on December 16.

If Southampton then moves into tier one, up to 4,000 fans could be permitted.

Asked for his reaction to the announcement, Bednarek told the Daily Echo: "It’s great news that we’re going to have fans back.

"There is going to be some joy from people that they can go out from home and really enjoy time watching football.

"Let’s hope that we are coming back to normal life and sooner or later there will be full stadiums and a really noisy atmosphere, which we really miss. So we’re happy with that."

Discussing playing football behind-closed-doors, Bednarek added: "We had to get used to this. We couldn’t have any influence on that, we couldn’t change it so if you can’t change something, you have to agree with that.

"We had to get used to it and I think that’s what we did. I think we could find some good moments that we could hear each other because it was a bit quieter so the communication was much easier during the games.

"Some positives from that, but not many. That was, for everyone, a tough moment to go through the COVID, to go through the lockdown so I think we are coming to the end, we are coming back to the normal life and let’s hope we will have it."

During the nation's first lockdown, all football stopped for three months.

But it has been a very different story this time, with Sunday's game against Manchester United likely to be Poland international Bednarek's fifth game for club or country in the past four weeks.

"There wasn’t really much time because we are training as normal, we are spending much time in the training ground," said the 24-year-old.

"Then there was an international break so I was away from home. It was a really busy period so there wasn’t really time to enjoy, there was more time to relax and get ready for the next game and recover, that was key for me."

Away from the intensity of training or playing, the centre-back has mainly spent his time at home with his dog Candy or fiancee Julia, including a trip along the south coast to a beach in Bournemouth this week.

"I had a walk with my missus, separated from people," said Bednarek.

"I think that’s also nice, to leave your home, to have some fresh air and that’s what we enjoy.

"That’s nice for me that I can come back home and really enjoy playing with my dog. Spend some time together playing with him and my missus.

"It’s a nice moment where you can forget about football and you can be really focussed on the other things and that’s when your head is relaxed and chilling from football. I think that’s the most important sometimes to forget about it and get fresh minded."

Candy has also been leaving a paw print online, with his own Instagram page.

And while Bednarek loves his time at home with his French Bulldog, he insists he plays no part in sharing Candy's adventures with the rest of the world.

Quizzed on the pooch's social media profile, Bednarek said: "It wasn’t me, it was my missus and I never touch it!

"She can do whatever she wants as long as I’m not having to do anything. You’ll have to ask her about that!"