Hojbjerg stripped of Saints captaincy ahead of City clash

Max Aarons of Norwich and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Southampton, right, in action during the Saints'

Max Aarons of Norwich and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Southampton, right, in action during the Saints' 2-1 home win over City in September Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been stripped of the Southampton captaincy, head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has announced ahead of Friday night’s clash with Norwich City.

The 24-year-old midfielder had spoken during the season’s suspension of his desire to join a club competing in the Champions League and with 12 months left on his contract Saints look set to offload the Denmark international, who has been linked with Spurs and Everton.

“No, he will not be the captain. I spoke to him, we have an agreement,” Hasenhuttl said during his pre-match video conference.

“He wanted to receive clearly what I think about it, and I said if you do not extend your contract you cannot captain this team any more. It’s a special situation for such a player who is very professional.

“It’s not a good situation to go into a final year, especially as captain, but I think we found a good agreement.”

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Hasenhuttl confirmed academy graduate James Ward-Prowse would take the armband for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

“Our new captain will be Prowsey in the future,” the former RB Leipzig boss added.

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“I told him in the friendly game (a 3-2 home win over Bristol City) that he was the captain from now, and it’s important we make this decision last week so everybody knows what it is about and everyone can concentrate on his job and that’s what I ask.”

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Southampton return to Premier League action for the first time since their 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle on March 7 when they travel to Carrow Road, which was a fourth defeat in five league games.

Mali winger Moussa Djenepo was sent off during that game so will miss out through suspension and Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long is also a doubt, having recently signed a contract extension through until 2022. The enforced break has allowed former City winger Nathan Redmond to return to fitness though.

Hasenhuttl added: “With Longy who has had a muscle problem, he’s back training with the group but maybe this week is too early. We’ll see.

“Next week might be better for him.”

The Saints sit 14th and seven points clear of trouble.

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