Southampton defender Jack Stephens is set for a long-term injury lay-off of up to 12 weeks after picking up a knee injury.
The 27-year-old was withdrawn after 37 minutes of Saints’ recent goalless draw with Manchester City and Ralph Hasenhuttl has now revealed that his player has a knee tendon issue that could keep him out until Christmas.
Speaking to southamptonfc.com on Stephens’ injury recently, Hasenhuttl said:
"“We have now with Jack Stephens a player who is long out, 10 to 12 weeks maybe, so we need every centre-back. A long-term injury is always a blow to us. The tendon on the knee is disrupted, so it’s a tendon injury. It takes, I don’t know how long, but it will take time.”"
Southampton need consistency and adaptation in Stephens’ absence
Jack Stephens had performed very well alongside Mohammed Salisu in the early part of this season and provides the team with something unique when he is playing.
No other Saints centre-back has the ability to bring the ball out from defence like he does and this is often a key part of the team’s system to break down opposition lines, but now someone else will need to fill the void that he now leaves.
The obvious and most likely alternative at this stage is Jan Bednarek. The Poland international has grown as a player with the club and was a consistent presence during the last campaign even if he lost his place to Stephens in the opening fixtures of 2021/22.
He will know his role in the Hasenhuttl system and has a healthy amount of Premier League experience under his belt, whereas the other alternative in Lyanco still seemingly has a way to go to adjust to English football.
Lyanco made his first Saints appearance in the EFL Cup win over Sheffield United on Tuesday and had a mixed game. Some good defensive contributions were coupled with a costly mistake that led to the second goal that Saints conceded at Bramall Lane.
The difference in intensity between leagues like Serie A, where the Brazilian plied his trade last season, and the Premier League is often noted by managers and players so patience will still be needed before Saints’ £7m man is truly ready to take his place.