Southampton winger Moussa Djenepo looks set for an extended spell on the sidelines after picking up an injury in the Saints’ 1-0 win against Liverpool recently, and his setback could prove to be the making of 21-year-old Nathan Tella.
The young winger replaced Djenepo in the win against Jurgen Klopp’s side and was close to scoring his first professional goal when his curled effort went just wide of Alisson’s post.
It has been something of a breakthrough season for Tella thus far, having made six appearances for the Saints first-team in all competitions after impressing Ralph Hasenhuttl with his performances for David Horseman’s ‘B’ team.
The former Arsenal youngster was recently shortlisted for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month having scored four goals against Leicester City U23s in December.
Horseman was full of praise for the youngster after this announcement, saying:
“Nathan is a player and person we are proud of, who stays the same in terms of attitude no matter if he is with the first team or B team.
“He plays with pace and energy with and against the ball and is direct when it comes to his thinking and actions.”
However, it seems unlikely that he will be making too many appearances for the ‘B’ team, as he looks to be on the brink of establishing himself as a regular in Hasenhuttl’s first-team squad.
Certainly, with Nathan Redmond and Moussa Djenepo both sidelined at the moment, Tella looks like the obvious replacement in the Saints first-team.
It could be a long absence for Djenepo, with Hasenhuttl having described the Malian’s injury problem as a “horrible” one, with the former Standard Liege man in tears as he left the pitch against Liverpool.
There could be a silver lining from this, however, as it could well allow Tella the opportunity to impress in this Southampton side and show Hasenhuttl that he can compete with the other wingers and attackers at the South Coast club.
The FA Cup fixture against Shrewsbury Town would have perhaps been the ideal opportunity for the 21-year-old to be handed a start before it was unfortunately postponed, so it will be interesting to see if Tella features in the Saints’ next scheduled fixture, which sees them take on Leicester City away from home in the Premier League.