Saints snap up midfield duo
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Southampton have reinforced their midfield options on the eve of the first game of the Championship season by signing Portsmouth's John Viafara and free agent Mario Licka.
Saints chief George Burley is hoping to construct a squad capable of promotion in the coming campaign and to that end has added the two new faces to his complement of players at St Mary's.
Colombian international Viafara (pictured) moved to Fratton Park last summer but failed to impress Harry Redknapp and was farmed out to Real Sociedad for a loan spell in January.
The 27-year-old has joined from Saints' rivals for an undisclosed fee after penning a three-year deal, and Burley is confident Viafara will prove to be a dynamic influence in the centre of the park.
"Viafara is a player I've been aware of since he went to Portsmouth," Burley told the club's official website.
"He's a regular international and was a regular when he first went to Pompey.
"He is good in the air and very energetic and I'm sure he will give our midfield extra balance.
"He's very competitive, he can defend and is a good box-to-box player."
Czech midfielder Licka meanwhile has arrived on a free transfer after being released by previous club FC Slovacko.
The 24-year-old shone for The Saints during pre-season and Burley was delighted to unveil Licka on a two-year deal.
"I am delighted to have got both of these players who will give us extra options and cover in midfield," Burley added.
"Mario played three games on trial and did very well. He has a good pedigree and we were fortunate to get him on a Bosman free.
"He is an attacking midfielder with bags of energy. He is technically accomplished, comfortable on the ball and he loves to get forward."
Saints will require international clearance for the new pair to play against Derby County on Sunday, live on Sky Sports 2.