In Southampton’s most recent game in the Premier League, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl opted to play centre-back, Jack Stephens, out of position as a left-back due to the recent injury suffered by Ryan Bertrand.
Although his decision seemed to pay off, as the Saints recorded a 2-0 win against Newcastle United that briefly took them to the top of the Premier League table, we feel that the Austrian cannot keep playing the former Swindon Town loanee out of position until Bertrand returns from injury.
The left-back picked up a knock in the recent win against Aston Villa, with Hasenhuttl confirming that the former Chelsea man had a hamstring problem following the game.
The 20-year-old is somewhat inexperienced, having made just three senior appearances for the South Coast club in his career thus far, although he was able to score in one of those appearances (per Transfermarkt).
However, he has made a lot of appearances for the academy sides at Southampton and the Saints must trust him to feature in the Premier League at some point, so why not now when they are overachieving and low on left-back options? As it could be argued that due to these circumstances, there is slightly less pressure on the 20-year-old’s shoulders.
The youngster signed a new four-year contract at the club in August, suggesting that they certainly have high hopes for his future, with Hasenhuttl suggesting at the time that:
“This is more good news for the future of this team, as these young players are important for our philosophy.
“Jake has developed well this season and made some big steps forward. He has good qualities, which he has shown in matches and also in his training with us. He is calm on the ball but also brave, and I like this attribute in my players.
“He must keep working hard on his game, and we will be sure to do this with him. There are many areas that he can improve in further, so this is a good opportunity for him to make the most of his potential.” (per Southampton FC).
Therefore, the Austrian manager clearly rates Vokins and with the busy Christmas schedule quickly approaching, it is time that the Austrian trusts the left-back to be a starter in his Premier League side, rather than playing Stephens out of position whilst he waits for Bertrand to recover from his hamstring injury.