Jack Stephens put in another disappointing Southampton display in his side’s 2-1 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, and Saints boss Mark Hughes needs to show his ruthless streak by sending the 24-year-old to Celtic on loan before August 31.
Well, with Jan Bednarek and Maya Yoshida both returning to training late following their appearances at the 2018 World Cup, and with new boy Jannik Vestergaard ill for the trip to Merseyside, Stephens has started both of the south coast outfit’s opening two Premier League fixtures this term.
However, he is still lacking that concentration and defensive nous that was also absent last season as Southampton narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship, and it seems clear that he and teammate Wesley Hoedt must not start together in a back four.
While the central defender is decent on the ball and at bringing it out from the back, it is obvious that the defensive side of his game still needs plenty of work, and he perhaps needs to go out and play regularly to get that experience so he can be a hit in the English top flight.
Firstly, the Bhoys are known to be looking for a new centre-half following continued rumours that Dedryck Boyata could leave the club, and with the likes of Kris Ajer, Jozo Simunovic and Jack Hendry making shaky starts to the campaign.
With all due respect, Stephens would certainly have an easier ride against Scottish Premiership opposition than he would against Premier League strikers, and that would allow him more time to think and to develop his game and improve.
Playing 90 minutes regularly would be another benefit for both him from a confidence point of view and the Bhoys, who would get a glimpse of the huge promise that the 24-year-old has shown previously at St Mary’s.