Southampton: 2017/18 half-season review – Jack Stephens

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Jack Stephens of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on December 16, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Jack Stephens of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on December 16, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /
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One player who’s been in and out of the side so far this season has been Jack Stephens, who has enjoyed a decent run in the side lately but had to wait a while for his chance.

The defender started the first four league games of the season as well as a League Cup tie with Wolves. However, with the signing of Wesley Hoedt and reintegration of Virgil van Dijk in the squad, Stephens had to wait until December where the 23-year-old was brought in as a replacement for the injured Cedric to play at his unnatural position of right-back against Arsenal.

Since then, Stephens has played every game during the Christmas period, either at right-back or his preferred position of center-back.

The Englishman has shown his quality, personally the stalemate at Old Trafford was a good example of his defensive qualities, but a lack of pace and sometimes focus has meant that Stephens hasn’t always been so solid and reliable at the back.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 30: Jack Stephens of Southampton and Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United chase the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on December 30, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 30: Jack Stephens of Southampton and Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United chase the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on December 30, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) /

Unfortunately for Stephens, his re-introduction in the side has come just when the sides’ darkest moment of the season so far has come around, which has seen Saints fall all the way down to 17th.

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It’s incredibly unlikely that Stephens has caused some of this downfall in form but I’d imagine a lot of fans would rather sign a new center-back to partner Hoedt instead of playing Stephens or Yoshida.

However, I personally rate Stephens higher than Yoshida and think that recent regularity in the side will help the 23 year-old out and that he’s a future captain in the making.

For now, he just needs to take whatever chances that he’ll get towards the end of the season as they may be scarce with the return of both Hoedt and Cedric as well as the possibility of signing a center-back in the window as he does have quality and a lot of potential, he just needs to continue proving to the manager, who of course was a brilliant defender himself, that he deserves a place in the starting lineup.