The Chalkboard: Hasenhuttl may see Slattery as Steven Davis’ long-term replacement

Southampton saw Steven Davis bring down a curtain on his career with them and depart St Mary’s for Rangers earlier this week following a successful six-and-a-half year spell with the south coast outfit, but Saints already have the long-term successor for the 34-year-old if Ralph Hasenhuttl can work his magic.

On the chalkboard

While the Northern Ireland international wasn’t as much of a first-team regular for Southampton this term as he had been in previous seasons, he still had a massive impact for the club in terms of his leadership and helping younger players out.

In his heyday, Davis was known as something of a box-to-box midfield player who could make a difference from both a defensive and attacking point of view, but as he grew older and his legs started to go it was something he could no longer manage.

The way he kept possession and played intricate passes that often led to assists or goals was part of the reason Saints secured four successive top-eight finishes in the Premier League, and they still don’t look to have a similar player right now even though some may argue Stuart Armstrong is close.

Who could fill the role?

The teenager that made his debut for the club in the FA Cup against Derby County last weekend – Callum Slattery.

There have been plenty of murmurings about the 19-year-old for years as he was always regarded as one of the players with the most potential from the infamous academy in more recent times, but opportunities under the likes of Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes previously were difficult to come by – not helped by the fact Saints found themselves battling against relegation.

Hasenhuttl has already proven that he is willing to give youngsters a chance ahead of senior players if he feels they are good enough to feature, and Slattery was given that opportunity at the Pride Park Stadium.

While it wasn’t a performance that wowed anyone, he showed similar attributes to those of Davis and if the Austrian manager can work his magic, Southampton might not even need to buy a replacement for the influential Northern Irishman.

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