Southampton centre-back Jan Bednarek committed to a new contract with the Saints earlier this week, which could spell bad news for Jack Stephens, with regards to his chances of breaking back into the first-team.
The English centre-back has struggled for game time this season, with Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard often preferred by Ralph Hasenhuttl, as he has made just four appearances in the Premier League, averaging a disappointing 6.40 rating (per WhoScored).
Following the announcement that the Polish international had committed to a new deal until the summer of 2025, it seems unlikely that he is going to be displaced from this Southampton side any time soon.
Meanwhile, Vestergaard has started the season in superb form for the South Coast club, averaging a 7.08 rating across his nine top-flight appearances.
Considering the Saints also have young Mohammed Salisu available to them now, with Hasenhuttl confirming that the summer signing was in contention to play against Brighton on Monday night, you worry that Stephens could soon be surplus to requirements at the South Coast club.
The academy graduate has gone on to make 116 appearances for the Saints, in which he has contributed six goals and five assists (per Transfermarkt).
Hasenhuttl was full of praise for the centre-back earlier this year, but also pointed out areas in which he could improve, saying:
“With the ball, definitely he’s one of our best defensive players we have.
“Against the ball, not always so happy with him, I haven’t been, at the beginning of the season.
“It is sometimes getting better, but this is still a part of his game where he can be more aggressive sometimes.
“If he is, then he has a very good package as a centre-back because he reads the game very well, he has a fantastic build-up of the game and then he is a very good player.” (per Daily Echo)
It seems as if Hasenhuttl hasn’t seen enough of those improvements from Stephens, as he has found himself on the bench more often than not so far this season.
If he can’t re-establish himself in the first-team at all during the busy Christmas period, then it would perhaps not be a surprise to see the £4.95 million-rated defender leave Southampton in the not too distant future.
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