Missing out on Southampton striker Che Adams could come back to bite Burnley in the behind!

Che Adams. Photo: Getty, Dan Istitene/staff
Che Adams. Photo: Getty, Dan Istitene/staff

New Southampton striker Che Adams could be a real asset in the Premier League, according to the Southern Daily Echo's Dan Sheldon.

The Clarets reportedly had a bid in excess of £12m rebuffed for the former Birmingham City forward during January's transfer window and, in the end, opted to draft in veteran Peter Crouch on Deadline Day.

Burnley renewed their interest for the 22-year-old in the summer, having retained their top flight status for another season, but it was Saints chief Ralph Hasenhüttl who eventually won the race for his signature.

Adams, nominated for Championship Player of the Year, hit 22 goals at St Andrews, the same number as Jay Rodriguez, though finished up with one less assist than the former West Bromwich Albion man with five.

The one-time England Under 20 international, who netted 11 goals in 47 appearances for Sheffield United, has scored three times in pre-season with each goal coming inside the opening six minutes.

Having found the net in a 1-1 draw against Austrian outfit SCR Altach, a 4-0 win over Guangzhou R&F and a 3-1 triumph away in Feyenoord, Sheldon said: "They haven't lost a game in pre-season, so that's an improvement. They drew their first game in Austria against Altach, but have won all of their games since.

"Che Adams has been a bright point of pre-season. He's already scored three times and shown a real eye for goal.

"All of his goals so far have come inside the first six minutes and against FC Koln, although he didn't score, he won the penalty that Danny Ings went on to score having started out wide. He looks a real player.

"He's a big lad, he's definitely got that physical prowess that Ralph Hasenhüttl was looking for to compliment Ings. He's got pace, strength and he could be a real asset in the Premier League."

Tomorrow's opener against the Saints will also see Danny Ings return to Turf Moor. The 27-year-old, who moved to Liverpool in 2015 having scored 43 goals in 130 appearances for the Clarets, has been in fine form in pre-season.

Ings, who was substituted due to injury in the 27th minute in this fixture last term, has also netted three times during the summer, converting from the spot against FC Koln at St Mary's having scored twice in a 3-1 win against Preston North End at Deepdale last month.

"The two looked really good together," said Sheldon. "Ings looks a lot sharper off the back of a full pre-season, which he didn't have last year.

"The main thing is trying to keep him fit because he missed so much football last year. Even then, he only finished one goal short of leading scorer Nathan Redmond.

"He says that he feels fitter than he's ever been and he's started to trust his body again. He's been working very hard with a fitness coach in LA during the summer, stuck to his programme religiously, and he's come back in great shape.

"It's an exciting partnership, they've hit the ground running and they're going to be quite a handful."

Hasenhüttl has implemented a new system since replacing Mark Hughes on the South Coast with his side operating in a 4-2-2-2 design.

Winger Moussa Djenepo is expected to sit this one out after featuring for Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations, meaning James Ward-Prowse and Redmond will likely continue where they left off.

The only question mark for the Saints hangs over their central defensive partnership. Southampton played 15 different combinations at the heart of the defence last season and dropped 29 points from winning positions.

Dayot Upamecano and Benoît Badiashile were both linked in the window, but it seems the pairing to face the Clarets will be a familiar one.

Sheldon said: "The manager was very keen to bring in another centre half, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen now.

"They've looked similar to last season. They're looking to get on the front foot, utilise a high press, move the ball about quickly, be direct with the ball and make use of the pace on the wings.

"Nothing has changed too much from last season following on from Mark Hughes' departure. The ideas are generally the same.

"There's such a good feeling around the club, but we've got a tough opening few fixtures that could threaten to suck all the momentum out of it.

"We've just got to hope that isn't the case. I think a finish between 9th and 14th would mark a good season for the Saints."

Predicted line-up: Gunn; Valery, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Romeu, Hojberg; Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Adams, Ings.