The Chalkboard: Southampton should restore Yoshida to backline after Asian Cup return

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has the opportunity to play Maya Yoshida again after his return from the Asian Cup.

The Japan international helped his side to the final, where they lost 3-1 to Qatar, but is now available for selection again.

On the chalkboard

Yoshida has been absent for the last four Premier League encounters, in which the Saints have actually avoided defeat.

Wins over Leicester City and Everton were followed by draws with Crystal Palace and Burnley.

Jack Stephens has deputised while Yoshida has been away with his country.

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However, they were 1-0 up until the 94th minute against Sean Dyche’s Clarets last time out when a handball fromĀ  Stephens led to a penalty being awarded, which was converted by Ashley Barnes.

Hasenhuttl, now back to a full complement of defenders to pick from, finally has the option to drop the 25-year-old and restore the Japanese veteran to the heart of his defence.

Greater Threat

Yoshida offers the experience and leadership that is lacking in Stephens.

Of course, that is not really the fault of Englishman, but the 30-year-old Yoshida has won 95 caps for Japan and has made 175 appearances for the Saints.

He is an astute reader of the game, tackles cleanly and is an excellent threat in the opposition box.

The Saints will be looking to get back to winning ways against Cardiff City and it is a key game.

The two teams are separated by just two points – Saints are 16th while Cardiff are 18th – and restoring Yoshida to the backline will ensure that nerves do not take hold on Saturday.