RALPH Hasenhuttl has urged his Saints stars to remain “professional” for the rest of the season, regardless of any discussions surrounding their futures. Hasenhuttl earlier this month said Saints “will do everything we can to keep him here”.  A host of other players within the squad are also understood to have little over one year remaining on their contracts, but Hasenhuttl says the only way for those players to deal with their situation is to perform on the pitch. Asked if contract talks were distracting any of his players,

Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “For the FA Cup semi-final I think this cannot be a topic because it was a big chance for everybody. I could not see, especially against the ball, that they were not investing a lot. But for the rest of the season, contract talks are always part of our business and a professional player cannot be affected by that. If it is like this then he should think himself about how professional he is. We have the same problems as many other clubs also have. We are not the only club who has players that are running out of contract and have offers maybe from other clubs. But the best way to make the step forward as a player is to perform well. There is no alternative other than to do this. It never helps if you are running out contract, having one or two years left when you are not performing well. It never helps anybody.”

Towards the end of last season, Hasenhuttl took the decision to strip Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of the captain’s armband and also limit his first-team involvement after the Dane made it clear he wanted to leave the club, instead pairing James Ward-Prowse with Oriol Romeu in central midfield. Quizzed on if he is looking to take similar action against any of his players in the closing month of this season, boss

Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “We are not so far in these thoughts to be honest. We have to focus now for what happens next year. This is always normal when you have the chance to stay in the league and then you can concentrate on the players that are also next season here. I think this gave us the chance to build something up and this was maybe one of the reasons why we had a very good start in this season because we had this team, we played with Ori and Prowsey in the last six games and then we could immediately step up in the next season and then we had this automatism building. This is my responsibility. When we don’t know now how many players are coming next season then I need to face for the players who are here still next season. This is I think the normal behaviour you have to do.”

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