Southampton were handed another huge blow this week as it was revealed that first-team regular Oriol Romeu is set to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
The Spanish midfielder was forced off in the 3-0 defeat against Leeds United and will now require surgery after fracturing his ankle at Elland Road.
While Alexandre Jankewitz could come into contention for a start against Everton on Monday, fortunately for Ralph Hasenhuttl, the South Coast club could have a ready-made replacement for the former Chelsea man in 18-year-old academy talent Kgaogelo Chauke.
With fellow defensive-midfielder Ibrahima Diallo only expected to return to training in the next few days after his own injury problems, Hasenhuttl may be forced to turn to some of his youngsters in upcoming fixtures due to a serious lack of options in midfield.
Chauke made his senior debut for the Saints in the 2-0 win against Shrewsbury Town earlier in the season and has been a regular in the Premier League 2 so far this campaign, despite only turning 18 in January.
The teenager has featured as both a central-midfielder and a defensive-midfielder with the Saints’ academy sides, which suggests that he would be a good fit in Hasenhuttl’s 4-4-2 set up, where he could partner the more attack-minded James Ward-Prowse.
When Chauke signed a new contract with Southampton in 2020, academy director Matt Hale was full of praise for him, saying:
“Kegs has shown tremendous progress since joining from his U15 season. He has learnt so much and showed a real curiosity to develop.”
With Southampton in woeful form of late, Hasenhuttl may be tempted to go with experience to try and steady the ship, but considering both Diallo and Romeu will be missing for the trip to Everton on Monday, perhaps the Austrian manager should put his faith in Chauke to step up as Romeu’s heir.
AND, in other news… Better than Jankewitz: Saints made grave error with £8m gem