Southampton manager Claude Puel is unperturbed by speculation regarding the future of Jose Fonte and will have no hesitation in restoring the centre-back to the team for the trip to Manchester United. The 32-year-old has been linked with a move to Old Trafford but is braced to come up against his suitors in the Premier League on Friday (17 August).

ESPN understands Jose Mourinho is keen to add Fonte, valued at £8m by Saints to his squad before the end of the summer transfer window on 31 August. Fonte was an unused substitute during the opening weekend draw against Watford as he continues to recover from his exploits at the European Championships with winners Portugal, but is poised to return.

Fonte has admitted to being flattered by interest from United but a deal is no closer to being completed, with just two weeks of the summer window remaining. Puel is unconcerned by the rumours regarding his leading defender and will not think twice about calling on the player despite the opposition.

"There is no problem with Jose," he told reporters, according to Southampton's YouTube channel. "This rumour is strange just before the game against United. There is a possibility he plays against United. He is a very good professional; he makes good training sessions this week. It is important to have Jose with us and I hope he will against United.

Jose Fonte
Fonte did not play against Watford but is fit to return against United Getty Images

"Jose is a good professional. I think also he cannot be disturbed by this story and this rumour. For me it is just a rumour and a surprise to see this against United two days before [the game]. But it is not a problem. Jose is or captain, it is important to consider it and I am sure he will be ready for us this game."

Puel will again be without Ryan Bertrand due to injury after the England left-back missed the stalemate against Watford with an undisclosed fitness problem. Both Maya Yoshida and Virgil van Dijk are available and will hope to keep Fonte out of the starting eleven for a second game in succession

"Ryan will be injured," Puel added, according to the club's official website. "He cannot make training sessions this week and for the moment it's important to resolve his problem. It is not a big injury, but it's not possible to see him on the pitch."

"José has made good training sessions and we will see for Manchester if he can keep his place or not. José, the same as [Maya] Yoshida or [Virgil] van Dijk, make good training and it is interesting for the team to have good players for this position."