Callum Slattery the most surprising absentee from Southampton’s pre-season squad

Charlie Austin, Guido Carrillo, Mario Lemina, to name but a few. There was plenty of notable absentees when Southampton named the 26-man squad that would be travelling to Austria for a pre-season tour on Monday, but the exclusion of one name in particular may have been more surprising than any other – Callum Slattery.

On the chalkboard

The size of Saints’ bloated squad is there for all to see given that Austin, Carrillo, Lemina, Jordy Clasie, Stuart Armstrong (food poisoning), Harrison Reed, Kayne Ramsay, Tyreke Johnson, Jake Hesketh, Sam McQueen, Harrison Reed, Sam Gallagher and Slattery were all missing, while Sofiane Boufal and new boy Moussa Djenepo are yet to report back to training because of their participation in the African Cup of Nations.

Given inexperienced younger players such as Will Smallbone, Christoph Klarer and Dan N’Lundulu all made the plane, it was more than a bit of a shock to see Slattery miss out.

He made three Premier League appearances as well as two in the FA Cup under Ralph Hasenhuttl last term, and drew personal praise from the Austrian after he made his first top flight start against Burnley in February.

The 51-year-old said post-match: “I know there were some voices that said ‘we don’t sign players in the transfer period’ but we played with a lot of young players and Callum Slattery had his first game in the Premier League.

“We have a lot of new players signed from our own youth team and Slat is another one of the good young guys in our club.

“Maybe we didn’t sign a new player but we have four or five young players who have made their first steps in professional football; players like Valery, Ramsay and Slattery.

“They can be our future.”

What’s the deal, then?

It’s difficult to say.

Perhaps the club have decided he would be better off going out on loan and that is the reason he has been left behind in England.

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Even that would seem strange though, given they are actively looking to move another central midfielder in Lemina on according to a report in The Telegraph.

The Gabon international has already been linked with moves to Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester City, as well as Serie A outfit Atalanta.

Southampton’s new man Moussa Djenepo divides opinion amongst fans in the video below…

His potential exit should leave Slattery to fight it out with the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse for a spot in the middle of the park.

However, he was nowhere to be seen on Hasenhuttl’s latest squad list puts that into some doubt, and could suggest that either something has happened behind the scenes, or that he has simply fallen out of favour with the former RB Leipzig boss.

Whatever the situation is, it is a fall from grace for the 20-year-old given where he was just a few months ago.