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Ralph Hasenhuttl admits facing Dean Smith in successive games ‘a little strange’

Southampton v Aston Villa – Premier League – St Mary’s
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is preparing for the “strange” experience of facing Dean Smith for the second match in a row on Saturday.

Saints’ last game was the 1-0 win over Aston Villa a fortnight ago, after which Smith was sacked as manager and then swiftly installed as Norwich’s new head coach.

Smith’s first opponents in the Carrow Road dug-out will be Southampton, and straight into another meeting with Hasenhuttl.

“It’s a little bit strange preparing for this game, because it’s always difficult when an opponent changes the manager, and you don’t have as much information as normal,” said the Austrian.

“He knows us, we know him. It’s a little bit different – but we are concentrating on our game.

“We have had some good games in the past and we want to concentrate on our development and this is the next game, which we want to win.

“We are preparing for our game, to be as flexible as possible. We know Dean Smith, yes we know the team, but in general we try to concentrate on our game and be prepared for everything that’s coming.”

Norwich axed their previous manager Daniel Farke despite having just won their first match of the season, 2-1 at Brentford, last time out.

“They won their first game, that gives them a little bit of self-confidence,” added Hasenhuttl. “It’s a strange moment when you then change the manager, but it is how it is.

“In Dean Smith they have a very experienced manager, he did a good job with Villa. But he will not have had much time, they had a few internationals gone away and he needs to do it now with two sessions to prepare for this game.

“For us it’s an opportunity to go there and show we can take points on the road.”

James Ward-Prowse is fit for the trip to East Anglia despite pulling out of England duty through illness.

“We have only Jack Stephens out, everybody else is fit,” said Hasenhuttl. “We had a few issues but everybody is on the pitch.”