Three reasons there is a long-term future for Jack Stephens at Southampton

Despite joining Southampton from Plymouth in 2011 and making his first team debut for the club in January 2012, it took five years for Jack Stephens to make his next appearance for the Saints.

That came against Everton at Goodison Park in January – his Premier League bow – when he replaced Cedric Soares at right-back.

His next outing was just two matches later when he replaced Virgil van Dijk after the Dutchman picked up a foot injury in the home win against Leicester City.

This time he slotted in at centre-back and he has been an ever-present there since, forming a partnership with Maya Yoshida at the heart of the defence.

The 23-year-old has had to step up following the departure of Jose Fonte in January and with Van Dijk possibly set to miss the rest of the season, but he has done that and may just be staking a claim to be a first team regular next term.

Here are three reasons Stephens is proving there’s a long-term future for him at Southampton…