RALPH Hasenhuttl was keen to put questions on the future of players such as Kyle Walker-Peters to the side, saying: “It is more important to bring them into a shape where they can compete.”

The Saints defender was subject to reports suggesting interest from Champions League Chelsea this week, with a fee up to £30-35million mooted.

Only Fraser Forster and Shane Long have departed St Mary’s so far, while Che Adams has also been a figure in continual reports linking Premier League clubs with a move.

Hasenhuttl already has a big Saints squad, with up to 28 first-team players potentially available for selection in the Premier League this campaign.

The Austrian boss faced questions about the reports of potential departures at his first press conference of the season, but was not keen to discuss them.

He said: “Before we go now through every player who has maybe had interest from somewhere, we should concentrate on the games that are coming up now.

“I know that the transfer window is still open for a long time, and this is something that will definitely affect your questions going forward.

“But for me it is more important to bring the players into a shape where they can compete. That is the focus I have.”

Walker-Peters was given his England debut by manager Gareth Southgate in March this year, having excelled for Hasenhuttl on both the right and left of his defence.

At present, only Walker-Peters, Moussa Djenepo, Romain Perraud are senior wing-backs in the squad – while Yan Valery could play there, but he is preferred in the centre of a backline.

Saints could also make further additions to the ranks, with Hasenhuttl speaking openly about the intention to bring in another forward before the window closes.

He was tempted into answering a question about bringing his former RB Leipzig star, Timo Werner, on loan from the Blues, but responded: “Nice try.

“As I said before, I’m not here today to speak about other players. We have our eyes open, the transfer market is open for another 30 days and we have done our job so far.

“This doesn’t mean we don’t want to something on another position but for now it is the moment to concentrate on the games.”

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