Southampton team news: Major 'worry' emerges after confirmed starting XI blow

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl

Journalist Tom Barclay is fearful of how Southampton will perform during captain James Ward-Prowse's three-match ban.

Why is Ward-Prowse suspended?

Ward-Prowse was sent off during Southampton's defeat to Chelsea before the international break.

Saints' skipper was given his marching orders after referee Martin Atkinson, who had initially brandished a yellow card, was told to check the VAR monitor for a challenge on Chelsea midfielder Jorginho.

It led to supporters taking to social media and they were divided as they weighed in on whether the England international was right to be dismissed at Stamford Bridge.

The red card means Ward-Prowse is unavailable for tomorrow's clash with Leeds United, along with Burnley's trip to St Mary's next weekend and the return to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup later this month.

Ward-Prowse's suspension comes after he had played every minute of the last two Premier League campaigns and, as a result, it will be the first time the 26-year-old is not included in a top flight matchday squad since Saints' 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town in December 2018.

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What has Tom Barclay said about Ward-Prowse?

Ward-Prowse has only failed to start one Southampton fixture so far this term, with that coming in the Carabao Cup third round trip to Sheffield United.

Saints' performance during that encounter has left Barclay fearful of how Ralph Hasenhuttl's side will cope without the central midfielder.

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The journalist believes Southampton may struggle to get the better of Leeds, Burnley and Chelsea while Ward-Prowse is not in contention.

Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: "The way he lifts the team and dictates the tempo is important.

"In the Sheffield United Carabao Cup game, Ward-Prowse didn't start that match and they were, by all accounts, pretty poor until he came on and really knitted the team together.

"That makes me worry about what they're going to be like without him."

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Who is likely to replace Ward-Prowse in Saints' starting line-up?

Ward-Prowse started the meeting with Chelsea at the heart of Saints' midfield alongside Oriol Romeu.

Ibrahima Diallo, who emerged from the bench as a substitute at Stamford Bridge, is a contender to replace Ward-Prowse and make his first Premier League start of the season.

Diallo has only featured in Hasenhuttl's starting line-up twice this term, with both of those occasions coming in the Carabao Cup.

Stuart Armstrong was on the bench for just the second time since the season got underway at Chelsea and could push for his first appearance of the campaign.

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