Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is confident Theo Walcott will have an impact this season ahead of his side’s clash with Aston Villa on Sunday.
The Saints brought an end to Everton’s unbeaten start to the season last weekend with a clinical 2-0 win although they had to do without Walcott, who was ineligible to play against his parent club.
The 31-year-old has made one appearance, during a 3-3 draw against Chelsea, since rejoining his boyhood club on a season-long loan in October, and Hasenhuttl has backed him to help the side.
On comments Walcott made about his enthusiasm for his return to the south coast, Hasenhuttl said: “(I’m) very happy to hear that he likes it here and he enjoys what we are doing here.
“I think it’s the same so far that what I’ve seen on the pitch. Normally you get a feeling for how much a player enjoys to play here and I’m happy that he’s available again this weekend.
“It’s important that he steps in the team and he’s learnt very quick. He’s open-minded to this new stuff we’ve tried to implement and yes, let’s have a look how much he helps us. I’m very positive that he will.”
Despite the win against current table-toppers Everton last weekend, the Saints manager expects a difficult challenge against Aston Villa.
The Austrian said: “Confident is such a word of leaning back…confident, yes. We have self-confidence yes but we know how tough it will be this weekend.
“I think we have a good chance to take something there if we play like we played last season against them.
“It was a strong away game from our side and we must go there with 100 per cent commitment and a good game plan and then we have a chance.”
Aston Villa lost their unbeaten start to the campaign last time out when they were beaten 3-0 by Leeds, but Hasenhuttl has not taken motivation from the game.
He said: “We know about the quality of Leeds – a very strong side I think. Villa had made a few very good steps forward in the summer with good signings but also better organised and definitely a team that is doing well.
“They had a fantastic start to the season and now lost a first game. But they had a few very good chances I think especially at the beginning and yes, a tough opponent, definitely a tough game for us.”
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