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Ryan Bertrand Nearing Return
Wednesday, 6th Feb 2019 12:51

Ryan Bertrand is back in full training and nearing a return to first team action, but the question is where would he be fitted into the team.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been speaking about Ryan Bertrand who has not featured under the Austrian so far and indeed has not played in three months since thr draw with Watford at St mary's on 10th November, but where will Ralph fit him back into the team ? More of that later.

Speaking about the left sided player The Saints manager said.

“I think he is still raising his physical strength."

“On this part he has to work because he was long out and it’s normal that if you start again training with the team it takes time until you are at the level where you can play 90 minutes."

“It doesn’t make sense to bring any player on the bench if he is unable to play 90 minutes in the moment."

“That’s what he has to work on and he is doing it."

“We’ve had ten very good intensive sessions [since Bertrand’s returned to training] and played 11 against 11 for a long time in the sessions."

“It’s been very intensive with a lot of long runs and that’s exactly what he needs at the moment to come back into the best physical shape.”

At the moment Hasenhuttl is under no pressure to rush Bertrand back into the team Matt Targett has done well and has matured with every game and although not an attacking player with the speed of Bertrand can use the ball well and in the Premier League has three assists to his name, the highest number of any player in the Saints squad.

Targett is benefiting from the new training methods that Hasenhuttl has employed, which include white lines drawn for wing-backs on the Staplewood pitch. The markings are designed to get the defender familiar with the channel he should be making his runs in.

Ryn Bertrand was sent videos of training sessions during his time out so that he could familiarise himself with the new regime's way of thinking and now after two weeks of training he has to be looking to push himself back into the reckoning.

But where will he fit in , certainly it would be cruel to axe Targett and although the Austrian manager will have no qualms about doing that if he feels it is best for the team, Targett is doing the job required both defensively and in going forward and creating chances.

So it could be that Bertrand could be deployed elsewhere in a different role, the obvious one would be to play him in front of Targett, using him in a more attacking role and he would be certainly suited to that in that he could not only get forward and put in crosses, something he excelled at in the past, but he would be able to get back and support Targett defensively.

But Ralph Hasenhuttl thinks outside the box and it could be that Bertrand is deployed in a back three, only Jan Bedanrek has really shown since the Austrian arrived that he is the man for the job, although Jannik Vestergaard is fast improving and starting to be considered an automatic choice.

However the third place is very much up for grabs, Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida are the only other two central defenders at the club but in the last two years neither has really grabbed their chance and shown themselves to be the true Premier League quality we need, under Pochettino and then Koeman both were considered way down the pecking order and the same could have been said under Claude Puel until Fonte left and Van Dijk injured.

Bednarek and Vestergaard supply physical force could it be that Bertrand could slot in and give pace, an ability to pass the ball, experience and organisation, four things that have been in short supply even after the arrival of Ralph.

So I expect Ryan Bertrand to be back in action soon, I'm not sure it wil be at the expense of Matt Targett, I await his return with interest.

Photo: Action Images

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carolinasaint added 01:43 - Feb 7
Interesting thoughts, Nick. I agree that Targett has played well and it's no certainty that Bertrand will immediately step in for him. And yet Bertrand--assuming he is completely healthy and close to his best--has enough class to warrant a place in the team. I could certainly see him on the left side of a back three; Koeman played him there at times, so it wouldn't be foreign to him.
Mostly I'm just glad he's back because, aside from giving us further options, we were going to be in quite a bit of trouble at the back if Targett got hurt before Ryan's return.

benalisbroom added 09:06 - Feb 7
Stephens in the middle of a back 3 doesn’t make much sense to me. Stick the giant Dane in the middle, with Bednarek to the right and Betts to the left, with one pacy w-back (Valery) on the right and one great crosser (Targett) on the left. That feels to me like a nicely balanced back 5.

SaintBrock added 10:53 - Feb 7
It remains to be seen if he will appear in a Saints shirt again.

Hasenhüttl has unfortunately learned the dubious English PR skill of never answering the question asked. The trouble for him is he is not very good at it so nobody believes his explanations for Ryan's absence.

codge added 12:53 - Feb 7
Totally agree with SaintBrock, doesn't pass the smell test.

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