AWAY from the beaches of the world, the higher-ups at Saints are now back in office and cogs can turn for a highly-anticipated busy summer.

The mantra since Sport Republic’s St Mary’s arrival has been one of acting swiftly and efficiently – something impossible under previous owner Gao Jisheng.

That is why Saints fans were already left frustrated at the club not acting early, looking over at the likes of Aston Villa securing two hotly-rated talents and a new assistant manager.

But comparison is the thief of joy, and Saints moved to add Ruben Selles, as well as goalkeepers Gavin Bazunu and Mateusz Lis before a pre-season return. The window only opened on June 10, but there is a lot of work still to be done.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has the novel task of preparing for a future with the ability to make five substitutes in the Premier League – previously it was just three from nine options.

It is something the Austrian has campaigned for since it was temporarily introduced during the COVID lockdown in 2020, and reintroduced for EFL Cup campaigns.

Saints are expected to target players all over the pitch this summer, with a few points of priority, but the boss insists the rule changes do not change who or what he is hunting.

“The five subs do not really affect my planning for the summer, to be honest,” he told the Daily Echo. “We had this season a very big squad because of COVID.

“This has possibly caused me some problems at the end of the season. I have had to put some players in the stands because they cannot be part of the squad.

“I think eight (outfield) subs on the bench does not make sense if you have only three chances to make subs.

“So this, in another way, was not the perfect situation to have so far this season.

“Five subs changes this massively and will give you more opportunities for making earlier changes. In the cup competitions, we have shown that we can use these chances.

“It is definitely a game changer for everybody.”

Despite Hasenhuttl’s insistence, there is still the suggestion by many that the big clubs will be the only ones to truly benefit for the upcoming adjustment.

Take Manchester City, for example, and look at their substitutes bench on the final day of the season.

The brace-hero Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Nathan Ake, Cole Palmer, James McAtee and a back-up goalkeeper.

Without exaggeration, it would be disingenuous to say anything other than every single one of those outfield players would start for Saints and Hasenhuttl.

But Hasenhuttl offers a more nuanced view on the benefits of having the additional opportunities for changes.

“You see that even with all the training and individual training you put the players through,” he begins. “If they are not always playing at the end of the season you see that there is a bit of a gap between the guys that always play and the guys who have not.

“It is not possible always to give the impact that they normally have when they play the games.

“This is what you see and then when in that moment you need them because you have injury problems, it is normal that they cannot play on the level that the others do.”

Hasenhuttl continued: “This is what you can change with the five subs, because you can make two at half-time and this is something what we will definitely use next season.

“Five changes gives you more chances to make an earlier sub and maybe give everyone more game-time.”

Saints are expected to make additions in defence and attack, while the likes of Moussa Djenepo could exit the club on loan or permanent terms if an appropriate deal is struck.