Ralph Hasenhuttl is hugely excited about the youthful Southampton squad he has assembled this summer but insists he has to be careful not to overload his talented youngsters.
The Austrian brought in two new teenagers from Manchester City – Juan Larios and Samuel Edozie – on deadline day, with Romeo Lavia and Gavin Bazunu brought in from the same club earlier this summer.
Hasenhuttl hailed the business done by the club over the summer and that it was “very close” to what would have been his dream scenario at the start of the close season.
However, a hamstring injury suffered by 18-year-old midfielder Lavia was a reminder to him and everyone at the club of the need to manage workload carefully, particularly for his less experienced first-team players.
Hasenhuttl said Lavia would be out for a minimum of six weeks and added: “It is difficult to find the right balance of keeping that enthusiasm at a high level and sometimes step on the brake.
“Like now with Romeo when he’s injured because maybe it was a bit too much, two games in three days on this high intensity level, for a young player like him who has to play in a different way, maybe more intense than in the second team of Man City.
“It is a different challenge now for the young lads. You have to be careful not to overload them with the intense games that are coming up. But this is something they hopefully will get adapted to very quickly.”
Asked whether consistency could also be a problem in such a young squad, he added: “Nobody is safe from having bad performances at one time – not experienced players nor young players. Football is a roller coaster like normal life. Sometimes you’re flying high, you feel comfortable, sometimes it’s not.
“But we will definitely help them to grow and to learn all the things that are important in professional football.”
Larios and Edozie are expected to be in the Saints squad for the trip to face Wolves on Saturday, along with Arsenal loan recruit Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Hasenhuttl was less optimistic that Croatian defender Duje Caleta-Car would have the necessary paperwork completed in time to be involved.