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Sunday, 12th August 2018 Kick-off 13:30
Saints At Derby County The Preview
Friday, 20th Jul 2018 09:00
Saints travel to Championship side Derby County for their third pre season friendly with debuts likely for at least two new signings.
These days pre season friendlies follow a tried and tester path, they do not have the competitive element that they had in years gone by and are now usually nothing more than training games to enable managers to get a feel for their squads and allow the players to get used to kicking a ball again.
That is almost certainly going to be the case at Derby County for Saints on Saturday, Mark Hughes squad will be without those members who played in the World cup although he does have three new signings in his squad who have not played before and at least two of those are likely to feature.
In his last run out against Jiangsu Suning in China, Hughes chose not to make wholesale changes straight away at half time, in the previous game V Schalke he had changed the whole team at half time, but against the Chinese side he made only three outfield changes at the break although he made a further 5 just after the hour mark.
He is likely to follow a similar pattern at Derby and it will be interesting to see whether he will start either of Mohamed Elyounoussi or Jannik Vestergaard.
Of the two I would say Vestergaard would be the most likely to start the game, Hughes will want to see how he looks alongside Wesley Hoedt and to a lesser extent Jack Stephens, both of whom had to play the full game against Jiangsu Suning with both of the other two central defenders from last season Bednarek and Yoshida away on World Cup duty.
Other than seeing how the two new guys look and perhaps there might be a glimpse of our new goalkeeping signing, I would suggest that this will give little real insight into Mark Hughes thoughts on what will be his best XI for the coming season, it will once again be mainly the opportunity to give most of the squad a game and to step up things after the first three weeks of pre season training.
Essentially we are at the half way stage of pre season and the real work is yet to get underway in terms of how Hughes wants to set up his side etc, so far its been all about getting fitness levels up, the trip to China was more about a PR exercise than anything else, certainly usually a team would not play two games so early after returning from the summer break, this would normally be the time the first pre season game would be played, it will be interesting to see how Mark Hughes views this game, but I do not expect him to reveal too much either in his selections or post match comments.
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