Martin Caceres could make Southampton bow in EFL Cup final

Martin Caceres could be set for a dream Southampton debut in the EFL Cup final against Manchester United.

Caceres, 29, was signed as a free agent two weeks ago, having been without a club since leaving Italian champions Juventus at the end of last season.

Southampton manager Claude Puel moved for the Uruguay international after losing Virgil van Dijk to a long-term ankle injury and captain Jose Fonte, who left for West Ham last month.

There were concerns over Caceres' fitness, given that he has not played since last February after undergoing surgery on a torn Achilles tendon, but Puel monitored him at Southampton's recent training camp in Spain and is now considering including him in the squad for Wembley on Sunday.

"I was surprised by his good physical fitness, because he can come on the training camp with a good level, good quality,'' Puel said. "He worked hard on his fitness during his injury, and I don't know if he can participate at the beginning of this game but he can give good opportunities and solutions.''

Puel could also be boosted by the return of winger Sofiane Boufal. Southampton's club record signing suffered an ankle injury during the 3-1 home defeat to West Ham three weeks ago, but resumed training on Thursday.

"We will see on Saturday with Boufal,'' Puel said. "He came back with the team yesterday and we will see if he will be fit for this game.''

Puel will be bidding to secure Southampton's first major trophy since they lifted the FA Cup under Lawrie McMenemy against the same opposition 41 years ago.

"Of course it's important for us and it's important for Manchester also,'' Puel said. "It's been a very good journey and interesting to see the philosophy of the club.

"It's a good moment for the fans and I hope we can give them pleasure and joy at this match. I know the last time Southampton can win a cup was in 1976 against Manchester. It's a long time and it would be fantastic to take a good result.

"I think it's important and I can understand of course all the good atmosphere around the team and the fans. But it's important for us to keep focused and with a good concentration about the game and not what happens after the game. We have to keep the good attitude and good spirit.''