The Sun's Tom Barclay has claimed that Southampton defender Jan Bednarek now has the chance to prove his class after a frustrating start to the season.
How has Bednarek's season gone so far?
The 25-year-old failed to start any of Southampton's first four league games this term, and was an unused substitute in three of those matches, as Ralph Hasenhuttl preferred the centre-back pairing of Jack Stephens and Mohammed Salisu.
Bednarek was brought back into the starting line-up for the Saints' most recent league fixture, though, and he helped the side keep a clean sheet away at Manchester City. Stephens also picked up a knee injury during the first half and is now set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, meaning that Bednarek should be in line for an extended run in the team.
What did Barclay say about Bednarek?
Barclay has admitted that Bednarek's form tailed off in the second half of last season after a positive start to the campaign, and suggested that is the reason that he has been overlooked in recent weeks.
However, he now believes that the 35-cap international has been handed a golden opportunity to prove his worth again at St Mary's after Stephens' unfortunate injury.
Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: “Bednarek, he’s kind of fallen a little bit down the pecking order because he had a poor second half of the season to be fair, mistakes in quite a few games. But it’s a chance now for him to come back in and show what he did show in the first half of the season.”
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How important is it that Bednarek rediscovers his best form quickly?
Southampton's defence had some major issues in the second half of last season as they managed to keep just one clean sheet in their final 21 league fixtures. Bednarek has to take his share of the blame for that given that he featured in all but two of those matches.
Hasenhuttl's men have shown some signs of improvement in the defensive third of the pitch recently, though, having not shipped any goals in their last two games against West Ham and City. They will need to keep things tight at the back moving forwards, as they have only scored four goals at the other end in their five top-flight matches to date.
That is why it is crucial that Bednarek gets back up to speed quickly. He needs to cut out the errors that plagued his game in the final months of last season, as if they creep back in again this could cost Southampton valuable points, and see them dragged into a relegation battle.News Now - Sport News