Mauricio Pellegrino is planning on giving the vast majority of his players 45 minutes of game time against St Gallen today, although Virgil van Dijk is one who will not feature, as he is eased back into action carefully.
The centre-back missed the second half of last season with a foot injury and is closing in on a return, having taken part in the bulk of training during the team’s pre-season camp in Austria this week.
Van Dijk has been held back from some of the drills, though, and Pellegrino explained they need to reintroduce him to full contact situations gradually.
"He is ok. He was doing 80 per cent of the job in the training sessions,” said the Saints boss of the team captain.
“We were leaving him outside some exercises for medical prevention. We know he has got an injury where we have to avoid the contact, and just for this reason we leave him outside, but little by little he is increasing the intensity and he is working in a good way.”
it doesn't matter if it's a friendly. the important thing is the dynamic that we create.mauricio pellegrino
Pellegrino expects to see plenty of the 28-man squad that he took out to Austria in action this afternoon, as Saints embark on their first friendly of the summer, and he knows what he is hoping to see from them.
"The idea is to give everybody playing 45 minutes,” he said.
"First of all I want to see our players try to translate the concepts that we have been working on in the last two weeks.
"Some of them were just working in three or four training sessions, but the important thing is the connection between them.
“My feeling is that the games are the best way to train. For me, it doesn't matter if it's a friendly game, it doesn't matter who the opponent is, the important thing is the dynamic that we can create."