SAINTS captain James Ward-Prowse missed the first match of pre-season after picking up a knock in training, but Ralph Hasenhuttl reassured supporters “it’s nothing serious”.

The 27-year-old England international is a mainstay in the St Mary’s side and made 42 appearances across all competitions last campaign.

His performances, including a personal best 10 goals in the Premier League season alone, have led to continued transfer interest from rivals in the division.

Ward-Prowse travelled with the Saints group for the Austria trip on Wednesday, set to play two games that began with a 3-1 defeat to German outfit RB Leipzig.

However, some supporters feared the worst when the skipper was not part of the squad that lined up to face the Champions League contenders at Lavanttal Arena.

“It’s nothing serious,” manager Hasenhuttl explained to Hampshire Live, on his captain’s absence. “But, in the end, we have what we have.

“We don’t have to ask any risks with James so we decided to leave him at home. We know what we get from him.”

The Austrian continued: “Absolutely it was the right thing to do (leaving him out).

“Last season in pre-season we had the same situation where he was also out with a knee injury. So this time it was good for us to try and test something different without him.”

The skipper could return to face Austrian Bundesliga SKA Klagenfurt on Monday, in the final match before Saints head back to England on Wednesday.

However, Hasenhuttl may opt to rest him fully – with further pre-season fixtures coming versus Watford, Monaco and Villareal, before the Premier League returns.

On his future, after links to the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and West Ham, Ward-Prowse told the Daily Echo earlier this year: “My commitment stems from the training ground and my love for playing football.

“That is ultimately what has got me here and that will never, ever change. My passion and love for what I do.

“Making sure I enjoy every moment I’m out on the pitch. That is the way that I show my commitment and I’ll continue to do so.”

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