Southampton manager Ronald Koeman will be rueing the fact that defenders Ryan Bertrand and Matt Targett are both unavailable at the same time.
Bertrand is serving a three game suspension after his red card against Swansea City whilst Targett was concussed after a collision with QPR winner Matty Phillips. That robbed the Saints of their natural left sided width that the pair produce and contributed to their downfall in the 0-0 draw with West Ham last time out.
Bertrand quality missing
The absence of Bertrand for three matches was a blow to the Southampton manager after his superb form saw him mentioned for an England call-up earlier in the season. It also allowed the Saints to attack down either flank, with the ever-impressive Nathaniel Clyne providing service from the opposite flank.
With Bertrand missing it was left to Targett to occupy the shoes left behind in the left-back position for the duration of Bertrand’s suspension.
It was just Koeman’s luck that in the first match without Bertrand, his replacement was also put out-of-action. Targett was caught in a mid-air collision by the forearm of QPR winger Matty Phillips and suffered concussion as a result, having to be stretchered off at Loftus Road.
It kept him out of the match a few days later as a precaution although no long-term damage was done and Targett should be fit to face Liverpool at St. Mary’s next week.
Japanese defender Maya Yoshida took over from Targett at QPR and coincidentally provided the assist for Sadio Mane’s late winner which saw the Saints leap to third in the Premier League table.
Against the Hammers though, Yoshida was equally as comfortable defensively in the position as either of the men he had replaced. However Southampton needed to play wide, especially with Sam Allardyce’s side down to ten men for the last half an hour, something Yoshida was not quite able to provide comfortably due to his inclination to come inside.
Targett return imminent
With Targett set to return to the side for the match against Liverpool it will provide Koeman will the width he needs for his side to perform in their usual fluid style.
Much emphasis is placed on his full-backs to bomb forward and get involved in the attacks as often as possible, something which has helped his side reach the top four this season.
The top sides rely on their full-backs to create and sometimes the defensively ability is an afterthought if they bring another option going forward. Koeman will be thankful that his current selection is adept in both areas of the pitch and will be back firing in double quick time.