Jack Stephens’ return to first-team action will allow Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl to be more flexible in his system selection, according to The Sun journalist Tom Barclay.
Stephens was back in Saints’ starting line-up as the south coast club suffered a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.
What’s the latest news involving Stephens?
The central defender had been a key part of Hasenhuttl’s plans during the early stages of the campaign, playing every minute of the first four Premier League fixtures before being forced off during the goalless draw with Manchester City.
Hasenhuttl later revealed that Stephens had to be substituted after sustaining a tendon problem in his knee, with the initial prognosis being that he would be sidelined for up to 12 weeks.
What has Tom Barclay said about Stephens?
Barclay believes the return of Stephens will have come as a major boost to Hasenhuttl as the festive period sees the fixtures coming thick and fast.
The journalist reckons the central defender could be key in allowing Hasenhuttl to adjust to in-game situations by altering his formation more freely.
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Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: “Stephens’ return is big in the fact that Southampton, often this season, have been reverting in matches to a back three or mixing it up for whatever the task ahead is.
“Ralph sometimes likes to do that.”
Why is Stephens key to Hasenhuttl’s plans?
Stephens’ importance was emphasised as Southampton only managed to keep three Premier League clean sheets in the central defender’s absence.