Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu is “not far off” Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year N’Golo Kante, says Saints boss Claude Puel.
Chelsea midfielder Kante, 26, was given the award on Sunday after winning a vote by his fellow players.
Romeu, 25, returns from a two-match ban to face former club Chelsea on Tuesday.
“Kante brings the same qualities as Oriol for us because he’s very consistent and in every game he gives good performances,” said Puel.
“Without [Kante] for Chelsea it’s difficult and the same with Romeu, it’s difficult for us without him,” added Puel.
“I think he’s not far off Kante, he’s an important player for this team because he can do fantastic work to recover the ball and start the play.
“We are confident in him and, for me, he can look to getting in the selection with Spain.”