Southampton impressively progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win against Wolves at Molineux in midweek and are now set to face the Old Gold again on Sunday at St Mary’s, this time in the Premier League.
Mohammed Salisu made his long-awaited debut in Thursday’s win and helped his side to a rare clean sheet, with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side having looked extremely vulnerable at the back in recent fixtures.
Whilst this could also be attributed to the return of Kyle Walker-Peters at right-back, there is no doubt that Salisu was impressive against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, despite it being his first appearance since his summer arrival from Real Valladolid.
Therefore, it seems only fair that the 21-year-old keeps his place for the Premier League fixture on Sunday, as apart from a few risky moments when he tried to play out from the back, he was rarely troubled by the Wolves attack.
Being left-footed, he also adds a balance to the defence that we have arguably not seen before, with Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens right-footed, and Jannik Vestergaard comfortable using both.
The Danish international is perhaps likely to reclaim his spot in the starting XI at St Mary’s on Sunday when you consider his impressive start to the season before his injury.
However, the former Borussia Monchengladbach man does not possess the pace of Salisu, who helped out Ryan Bertrand superbly in the second half when defending against the dangerous Adama Traore, who was completely nullified on Thursday night, completing 0/3 dribbles and earning a 5.8 match rating from SofaScore.
The Saints could leave themselves vulnerable to Wolves counter-attacks featuring the pace of Traore and Pedro Neto should the Austrian manager restore Vestergaard to his starting line up, and therefore he should keep faith in Salisu after his strong debut performance.
Vestergaard labelled Salisu a “big talent” earlier this season and we certainly saw glimpses of that on Thursday night, although the 28-year-old centre-back can now consider his young teammate a serious competitor for a starting spot in the Premier League, as he appears to have finally overcome the injury and fitness issues that kept him out earlier in the season.
And, in other news… Hasenhuttl left with big call to make on £70k-p/w beast ahead of Wolves game