With Wesley Hoedt out of favour under Ralph Hasenhuttl and Maya Yoshida currently away on international duty at the Asia Cup, Jack Stephens and Jannik Vestergaard are likely to feature in Southampton’s backline in this weekend’s FA Cup third round clash with Derby County.
Since making a calamitous error against Cardiff City in early December, Vestergaard has been in fine form. The 6’7” centre-back looks to have finally adapted to the English game, having joined the Saints from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer.
Stephens has also been in improved form when he has played recently. The 24-year-old alongside Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek looks to have the makings of the kind of solid, reliable centre-back partnership that the south coast club have been crying out for.
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If Stephens and Vestergaard are given their chance against the Rams then they could even give Hasenhuttl a good reason not to try to bring another centre-back to St Mary’s Stadium in this January transfer window.
According to Sky Sports, the Austrian coach is considering turning to the market in order to bolster the Saints’ backline when he first arrived at St Mary’s. However, if Vestergaard and Stephens can impress in the FA Cup, then the manager may opt to stick with what he has.
A good performance against Frank Lampard’s Championship outfit could see this centre-back duo given a run together in the Premier League too. If they can maintain their good form at that level then they will provide Southampton with a solid foundation from which to launch their top flight survival bid.