Southampton: Jan Bednarek must now step up for the Saints

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Jan Bednarek of Southampton in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Southampton and FC Augsburg at St Mary's Stadium on August 2, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Jan Bednarek of Southampton in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Southampton and FC Augsburg at St Mary's Stadium on August 2, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images) /
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Ahead of a crucial set of matches over the next five weeks or so, Southampton are short on centre-backs. Jan Bednarek must fill that void.

In the past month or so, the Saints have failed to acquire a replacement for Virgil van Dijk and have loaned out Florin Gardos, all before Maya Yoshida suffered a leg injury last week which will see him out until April.

As a result, Southampton are seriously limited when it comes to back-up options for the pairing of Wesley Hoedt and Jack Stephens, especially when both of the centre-halves are close to suspension.

Yoshida’s injury couldn’t of come at a worse time, with the Saints facing the likes of Stoke City, Newcastle and Swansea after this weekend’s trip to Burnley.

It means that Polish defender Jan Bednarek – who has spent the majority of this season with Southampton’s Under-23’s side – may have to step up and fill a very big void. The 21-year-old has played just twice all campaign, with both starts coming in cup competitions.

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SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 23: Jan Bednarek of Southampton and Nouha Dicko of Wolverhampton Wanderers battle for possession during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Mary’s Stadium on August 23, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 23: Jan Bednarek of Southampton and Nouha Dicko of Wolverhampton Wanderers battle for possession during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Mary’s Stadium on August 23, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) /

To make matters worse, only one of those appearances have come in his natural position of centre-back, and that was against Wolves way back in the Carabao Cup defeat in August.

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In fact, that was a match where Pellegrino attempted to play three-at-the-back, meaning Bednarek hasn’t played in a four-man defence for the senior side, in his natural position, since moving to the south coast.

Therefore the weight on the youngsters shoulders should he be called upon is huge. The Saints need to pick up at least nine of their 13 needed points (assuming 40 is enough to survive) in the next month or so and therefore they need to be shutting out attackers as best they can.

Bednarek has been far from a failure in his two cup appearances – if anything he’s impressed. However, he needs to take his game to another level if he’s to start against Premier League opposition, especially those with physical, powerful strikers who will look to win things in the air.

Whilst £6 million is a modest fee in today’s market, the Polish centre-back’s in his native league’s most expensive export, and he needs to repay that faith by stepping up when called upon.