Is Gaston Ramirez's return a boost for Southampton?
Gaston Ramirez is the forgotten man at Southampton and made his first appearance for over a year in the League Cup win at MK Dons, but can he force himself back into Ronald Koeman's first-team plans?
Gaston Ramirez made his first appearance in a Southampton jersey for more than a year when he was a second half substitute in the 6-0 League Cup win at MK Dons.
Once a club record signing at St Mary's, the Uruguayan has quickly become the forgotten man amongst the ever-changing cast on the south coast.
Ronald Koeman issued a lukewarm welcome back for Ramirez following a year spent on loan at Hull City when he said 'he's part of the squad, training well, well disciplined and not complaining', but can Ramirez force his way back into the Dutchman's plans?
The 24-year-old looked destined to be written off by Saints in the summer when Koeman suggested it would be 'very difficult' for him to immerse himself back into the squad.
Koeman has made no secret of the fact that he sees Ramirez as something of a maverick on the pitch, a player more concerned with his own freedom of expression than fitting into the overall system of play.
The likes of Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane, on the other hand, appear to buy into what the former Feyonoord coach demands of them.
Koeman was somewhat hesitant in suggesting that, with the transfer window now closed, he will afford Ramirez a chance to prove he retains value for Southampton, but he also admitted he would have been just as likely to summon one of the strikers from the U21 team for the midweek trip to MK Dons, but for the fact they had been in action 24 hours earlier.
The former Bologna midfielder arrived in England with a great deal of expectation on his shoulders and there has been little in three years to suggest he will carry that burden successfully.
Koeman also made reference to the player missing a hefty chunk of pre-season with a niggling injury and, while he will offer competition for places, Ramirez is unlikely to become a Saints regular under the Dutchman's watch.
Even in his brief cameo appearance in the 6-0 stroll in Milton Keynes, Koeman found issue with the level of freedom Ramirez takes within the team, something his manager felt made it 'difficult for (our) organisation in the team'.
On the plus side, the attitude of Ramirez since returning to the club has been deemed positive by his manager.
If Ramirez is seeking hope that he can turn things around, he can take note of the reversal in fortune of teammate Victor Wanyama.
The ex-Celtic midfielder laid his cards on the table before the transfer window closed, apparently determined to engineer his way out of the club.
With no move forthcoming, Koeman encouraged the player to knuckle down and show his worth for Southampton. That, said the Dutchman, was the only way in which Wanyama could safeguard his chances of eventually securing a move onwards.
Wanyama has since forced himself back into the starting line-up and Ramirez can only hoping a continued positive impression on the training ground will allow him gain an opportunity to do likewise.