Southampton manager Claude Puel has left Jose Fonte out of his squad for the EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool on Wednesday night (11 January), after the captain handed in a transfer request. The boss also revealed that Sofiane Boufal is expected to be out of action for around three weeks after being forced to withdraw from the Morocco squad for the Africa Cup of Nations due to a knee injury.
Saints director of football Les Reed Fonte revealed last week that Fonte had turned down an offer to extend his contract at St Mary's, as he is looking to move away from the club during the current transfer window.
The Portugal international was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the summer transfer window, while recent reports claimed that Ronald Koeman could be interested in luring him to Everton.
Puel has failed to give an update on the situation but did confirm that the centre-back will miss the EFL Cup clash with Liverpool amid the uncertainty surrounding his future.
"José doesn't participate in this game. We will see for the next game. But, for the moment, and with the situation of José, it's important to keep the stability in defence," Puel confirmed ahead of the visit of Liverpool.
"We don't know the future for José. It's a difficult situation with the window [being open]. For the moment, I stay with stability in defence. The club has given him the possibility to study different opportunities during the window and it's important to respect this. I respect José and I respect this situation. Of course, it's not easy, for José, for the squad, for the staff.
"It's difficult to play and have the good concentration with this situation. He's a strong professional, a good professional, but it's a particular situation and it's important to respect this."
Boufal, meanwhile, returned to Southampton after being forced to pull out from the Morocco Afcon squad due to a knee injury. Initial reports suggested that the club record signing could be out for a month, but Puel hopes to have him back in around three weeks after ruling out a serious injury.
"Sofiane Boufal has a knee injury, and he cannot go to the Africa Cup," Puel confirmed. "He will stay with us to recover. I hope he can come back in three weeks. It's not a serious injury, it's inflammation of his knee, but he cannot play and he cannot play for his country.
"It's just an inflammation. It's not a bad injury, but it's important to be careful about this injury. It's a good thing he can stay quiet, because I think he is an important player, who can make the difference with his quality."