Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard could be set to return to action sooner than expected after a spending time on the sidelines through injury.
The Denmark international has been nursing a knee problem for around a month and has missed the last six Saints games across all competitions.
Ralph Hasenhuttl provided a positive update on his key player in his post-match press conference on Saturday and said (speaking to Tom Leach of Hampshire Live):
"“It will still take a little bit of time but now Jannik may return earlier than Salisu.“When Jannik is back we will have a few more alternatives at the back.”"
When will Vestergaard return?
Hasenhuttl was reluctant to put a timeframe on Vestergaard’s return, allowing the player to feel ready in their own time before returning to the field.
His words do suggest an early return for his centre-back though – whether that be ahead of schedule or in early February when he was expected to be available again.
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Vestergaard is crucial for Saints because of his defensive qualities and aerial prowess in both boxes but also plays a key part in attacking build-up for his team.
When Saints were on top form in the early part of this 2020/21 campaign he was seen spraying passes about the pitch, helping to stretch play and create space in the process. Goals have dried up a bit since he became injured and perhaps his return will allow those attacking patterns to be formed once again.
Whilst answering the same question, Hasenhuttl also reserved high praise for defensive duo Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens, who have both performed admirably as the only available options for their position currently.
Both have the great trait of being in the right place at the right time and positioning themselves excellently to maintain clean sheets – Saturday’s shutout against Arsenal was Saints’ 10th in all competitions this season.
Hasenhuttl’s team work as a collective in both defence and attack but the contributions of individuals have helped to create a setup that has produced some great results so far.