Claude Puel hinted Saints may shy away from signing another striker in January by insisting the club would only sign a player clearly “superior” to what they already have.

There has been a clamour amongst fans for Saints to recruit a new striker in the upcoming transfer window, with the club having struggled for goals and leading scorer Charlie Austin ruled out for four months.

Puel would not entirely rule out the possibility of making an addition to his squad, but hinted it might not happen given the difficulty of recruiting the calibre of player he would want – for a sensible price - in January.

He said: “I want to say that I want to continue with these players, to develop them, to make good progress.

“The market of course is open perhaps for a good solution, a good opportunity, but I say it’s always a difficult period to find a good solution.

“For me, if a player comes during the market it is a great player, superior to all the players in the squad. This I think is always difficult for the market window.

“I prefer to stay with the good concertation with my squad, to make good progress and to go up together. It’s my philosophy.”

He added: “The window it’s perhaps important to see something for all the team but it’s always I think a dangerous market because often the players available in this period stay in difficulties with their club – injuries or they didn’t play.

“It’s always difficult to find a good solution in this period.

“I prefer to stay in a good concentration about my team, my players, to continue this work, to make progress and develop all the players.

“For example, we have Charlie Austin injury, ok, perhaps Shane Long or J-Rod like against Bournemouth can take the place and make good progress.

“This I think is important.”

Puel again insisted that both of his centre halves, Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk, would stay at the club.

“I think Jose is a little particular with his contract with Southampton. Virgil is a very important player for us,” said the Saints manager.

“He stays here and it will be important with Virgil to continue this work and to go up on the table.

“For me it’s not another idea, another view, with Virgil.”

When asked to confirm whether both would remain at St Mary’s in January, Puel replied: “Yes of course.”