Ralph Hasenhuttl believes new signings shouldn’t play in rearranged fixtures

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl believes it is vital for the integrity of the Premier League that players signed in January are not permitted to play in fixtures that were postponed before their arrivals.

A total of 16 top-flight matches were called off in December following coronavirus outbreaks, in addition to two on the first weekend of the new year.

The rearranged games will take place after clubs have had opportunities to strengthen their squads in this month’s transfer window, with Newcastle – one of the teams Southampton are due to face in a rearranged clash – expected to spend big this month after the Saudi-led takeover of the club last October.

The Magpies have already signed England international Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid.

Hasenhuttl said he had raised the matter at a Premier League managers’ meeting just before Christmas, and added: “This should be something the Premier League is discussing.

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“We have 18 games postponed so far, and it is something that you cannot stop playing in December and wait for the signings in January to play.

“Nobody has done this, but it could be an opportunity in the future and this is what we shouldn’t get.

“It’s also the same for us because we have a new owner and could sign four players and then play (the rearranged game) against Brentford (on January 11) with a different team. This is not fair, and it’s why they should be thinking about it.

“I raised it at the last Premier League meeting and that we should think about it because of the integrity of the league. We had some issues in the past and we should try to be very strict in this way.”

It is understood the subject was not brought up during a virtual club call on Friday and is not being considered by the Premier League.

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The primary reason for matches being called off has been the lack of suitable players that clubs have been able to call upon due to Covid-19 and other injuries, and making January recruits ineligible could heighten the risk of further postponements.

It is understood clubs did agree on Friday that any under-21 players who are roped in for debuts in the FA Cup third round this weekend will not be deemed as “appropriately experienced” under the Premier League’s criteria for postponing a match due to insufficient players.

I raised it at the last Premier League meeting and that we should think about it because of the integrity of the league.

The league’s squad management protocol states postponement requests will only be considered where less than 14 players – including at least one goalkeeper – are available.

An under-21 player is deemed suitable to be included in that consideration if they have first-team experience – either with that club, another Premier League or EFL club or an overseas club.

However, clubs have decided that an appearance in the FA Cup third round will not count.

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Under-21 players could be relied on heavily this weekend, because FA Cup rules require all registered players – even those in the youth team with no previous senior experience – to be considered in order to get matches played.

No specific proposals were put to clubs on Friday’s call regarding possible additional Covid-19 measures for unvaccinated players and staff.

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