Southampton boss drops interesting selection hints ahead of Sunderland clash

Southampton face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light just hours after the transfer window closes

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Russell Martin says he could hand full debuts to a trio of new signings when Southampton face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Martin has added West Ham United's Flynn Downes, Everton's Mason Holgate and Newcastle United's Ryan Fraser on loan as he looks to oversee immediate promotion back to the Premier League for his new club.

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All three featured in some capacity against QPR in a 2-1 win last weekend, and after a full week of training are in contention to play against Tony Mowbray's side.

Southampton are without captain Jack Stephens, who is expected to be absent for around eight games due to injury, further increasing Holgate's selection chances.

"All three could potentially start the game," Martin said in his pre-match press conference.

"One of them I have worked with before, I think Flynn showed everyone on Saturday how when you understand what’s being asked of you then you can fit in straight away.

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“He’d only really trained properly for a day or two and he was furious he missed one pass out of 115. That shows you his mentality because he was genuinely annoyed about that.

“He will get better and he shouldn’t have played that long – he’s been really unwell. But the game dictated that he had to come at that point with Jack’s injury.

“Mason is a fantastic signing," Martin added.

"He adds character and he’s flexible. He’s a good footballer and hopefully, we will give him a chance to really show us what he has got.

“It didn’t surprise me how well Ryan did when he came on – he’s a really good player.

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“We went through the clips as a unit and he was involved in so much of the good stuff we did in the last half an hour.

“He probably shouldn’t have played as much as he did, but he was chomping at the bit to get on the pitch. He’s going to be a really excellent signing, as will all three of them.

“They’ve really added to the feel of the group this week with their noise. It’s still quite a quiet group and they are still finding their feet again after a lot of disappointment.

“Mason and Flynn are still at a peak age really. Ryan is a bit older but still at a peak age. They’ve helped us add a bit of experience and grit."

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Both sides are working hard to add to their squad before the transfer window shuts at 11pm on Friday night, adding another layer of complexity to the game. Any signings made would have to be registered by lunchtime on Friday to feature in the game.

Southampton are working on a deal to sign Sunderland striker Ross Stewart, though he of course will not be fit for selection even if he were to make the move before the deadline.

They are also active on a number of other fronts, and are believed to be pursuing Manchester City youngster Taylor Harwood-Bellis on another loan deal. Harwood-Bellis was part of the Burnley side who won the Championship last season.