Southampton and Ralph Hasenhuttl encountering surprise right-back problem

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Coming into the 2019/29 season it appeared as though the right-back position was going to be one of Southampton’s strongest, but it has been anything but in the early stages of the campaign.

On the chalkboard

With youngster Yan Valery impressing and nailing down the spot as his own under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl in 2019, it seemed as though his performances would only go from strength to strength when it became apparent that he would face competition from returning loanee Cedric Soares for the role this term.

The Portugal international appears to have won his Austrian manager over somewhat having been bombed out on a temporary basis to Inter Milan at the start of this year, and he has been heavily involved in the squad during pre-season and when the campaign got underway.

Both have been handed their chance on the pitch in the last month or so, but they haven’t exactly impressed.

What’s happened?

While Valery’s confidence – from both an attacking and defensive point of view – appeared to grow during his time in the starting XI last season, it hasn’t been evident recently.

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The Frenchman’s WhoScored rating for his display in the 3-0 defeat against Burnley was the lowest of any of his defensive teammates, while both of Liverpool’s goals – albeit he wasn’t to blame for the second – came from his side the following week.

Having come off at Brighton following a dreadful tackle by Florin Andone, the 20-year-old has watched on as Cedric as attempted to stake his claim for the right-back position.

That hasn’t exactly gone well for the Euro 2016 winner yet though despite helping his side keep a clean sheet against Fulham, as he was only accurate with one of his five crosses – a long-standing issue – against Manchester United at the weekend, and having afforded Daniel James far too much time for his goal.

What does Hasenhuttl do from here?

The Austrian will surely eventually want one of the duo to be his first-choice, but right now it might be a case of rotating until that becomes more obvious.

Valery is a promising talent and Cedric has proven Premier League and international pedigree, so perhaps it is simply down to a lack of form and confidence.

Whatever it may be, Hasenhuttl will want a solution to become clear sooner rather than later in a position he shouldn’t have needed to worry about on paper.

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