Gaston Ramirez could be given the freedom to be one of Saints’ most creative threats after Ronald Koeman confirmed he is unwilling to let the midfielder leave before the close of the transfer window.
Ramirez, a £12m signing, has never quite found his feet at Saints, and has been linked with a move to Sevilla in Spain.
However, Koeman is interested only in signings rather than releasing players and believes Ramirez can produce his qualities - if he can stay fit.
“Our squad is too small to think about players going out of the squad because we have to bring in and not let players out,” he said when asked about a possible St Mary’s exit for Ramirez.
“He’s a very good player because I know him, I see him in the training sessions but he had a big problem. He missed two times in a week in the first six or seven weeks of the season and then you are always back with your physical way and your football way and you need time for that.
“Little by little now I hope he will continue fit and in a good shape because there is no doubt about his quality.
“He can play in my opinion in three positions – in the left wing position, the right wing position and as a number ten behind the striker with a lot of freedom which he needs.
“He’s a player like Tadic, you can’t say stay wide and keep wide, they need movement, they need freedom to play.
“The problem is he wasn’t in the physical 100 per cent and now little by little he will be and then he will start playing.”
With time ticking down until the close of the transfer window on Monday, Koeman confirmed Saints still intend to sign two more players.
However, a deal for Toby Alderweireld is dead while of Andros Townsend the Saints boss said: “I don’t expect good news about that.”
That could mean a late swoop for Norwich winger Nathan Redmond.
Though rumoured interest from Burnley in Jos Hooiveld was played down by Koeman, Artur Boruc could yet leave Saints after the signing of Fraser Forster, while there is also a lot of focus on Jack Cork.
The midfielder has one year remaining on his contract, and is not set to be offered a new deal by Saints.
He is currently their only cover at right back, but if someone else arrives in that role then Cork’s future will look uncertain once more.
Koeman was asked what Cork has to do to get a new contract and said: “Training and playing like he is now and there will come a moment that the club will decide about his future but it’s too early to say others things than I can do now at the moment.”
He added: “It’s always different.
“There’s a new manager and everybody starts at zero and have to show their qualities and the manager will decide the line-up for the match and if you are not one of the 11 show the manager your qualities.
“How he did against Millwall he came on a good way in the team and brings the spirit in the team what we need in the second half and that’s the way you have to react and you have to do that.”