Southampton are in no rush to have summer signing Mohammed Salisu in action, manager Ralph Hasenhuttle has stated.
The Saints acquired the services of the Ghanaian from Spanish side Real Valladolid in August but are having to do without the 21-year-old in their Premier League campaign so far owing to fitness concerns.
He joined training in the starting week of the top-flight and is yet to make the matchday squad three weeks into the season.
“He [Salisu] is more and more part of our first-team training, but it takes time,” Hasenhuttle told pressmen on Friday ahead of Sunday's league encounter with West Bromwich Albion, his club's official website reports.
“He is coming back, but we’ll give him all the time he needs.”
Salisu signed a four-year deal with Southampton, having been linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and French club Stade Rennais.
"It may take a few more weeks, maybe [to break into the starting set-up]. After the next international break [in October], I hope to have him in the first eleven. He has good drive and is a very ambitious guy," Hasenhuttl told Hampshire Live.
"He is working hard on his fitness at the moment after a long break from injury and there are a few issues we must work on but you can see his physicality.
"The potential he has is amazing and he wants to learn quickly. He is exactly the type of player that we need to have here.
"We have very clear and strict limits on any transfer we make. We have to have a player that really likes to come to us for money we can spend.
"If we find such a player then I am sure he will enjoy it and develop very quickly when he is with us.
"He will not be a short-term project, he will be more of a long-term project. Therefore I think he was a fantastic transfer."
Last season, Salisu made 31 appearances for Valladolid in La Liga, starting 30 of the matches, scoring once and assisting one other goal.
Uncapped by Ghana, the centre-back has not been called up for the Black Stars upcoming international friendlies against Mali and Qatar later this month due to his fitness issues.