Vestergaard Set To Miss Fulham Trip ! But Who Will Replace Him
Thursday, 24th Dec 2020 09:37
Ralph Hasenhuttl was dealt a big blow with the news that Jannik Vestergaard may miss the trip to Craven Cottage on Boxing Day, but the real question is who will replace him, will it be Jack Stephens or will Ralph go for the shock selection of Mohammed Salisu.
Unknown to Saints supporters Jannik Vestergaard has been carrying a knee injury in the last few games and after playing 3 games in only 6 days, it has caught up with him and in the words of the club become "Unmanageable" whatever that means.
But the news gets worse as it seems that it will be week on the sidelines for the Danish central defender and he has been a key element of our surge up the league this season.
"He is definitely a player who was in unbelievable shape. I think nobody expected him to play like this and it will be a big loss, no question," Hasenhuttl told HampshireLive.
"I don't know how serious it is, we don't know yet - but say it is a few weeks, it doesn't make sense for me to tell the players every week: 'Don't forget, Jannik is not there!'
"I think we have seen the team at the top of the league (Liverpool) play for two months without Virgil Van Dijk and everybody said this was not possible, that you could not play without him. They are not really less successful than before, so everything is possible."
Hasenhuttl is yet to make his decision as to who could replace Vestergaard at the back with two training sessions, today and Friday, still to take place before Saturday's game.
It seems that Ralph now has to make a straight choice to replace Vestergaard, will he go for the tried, tested but not completely convincing Jack Stephens or the summer signing Mohammed Salisu, a completely unknown quantity in this country and this level.
"Maybe the game will change slightly because Jannik with the ball has fantastic passes and solutions but we must adapt our game always to ever circumstance that is there - but we must trust in the other ones.
"Salisu is a completely different player. He is left-footed so a left-footed one makes it on the left a little different with the angle of how you play the ball.
"But we have Jack Stephens who is a very similar ball-player to Jannik. I have not decided yet what I will do," he admitted.
"We must have a look. We will not be able to make a one to one change as this is not possible."
It will be a tough decision for Hasenhuttl, but more worryingly one that could send Saints season on a downward spiral, on one hand Stephens is a good club player , one who has never truly made the position in the centre of defence his own and for most of this season has been a squad player, from this perspective it could be said he is part of a time when we were defensively awful, but he is experienced.
On the other side we have a promising new signing, but one who hasn't played a game of any sort since July and is untried at this level.
Both the injury and the lack of game time not only for Salisu but also Ibrahima Diallo who is likely to replace the suspended Oriol Romeu highlights an area that we have fallen down a bit in and that is resting players and giving those that can replace them some game time.
This will be a lesson that Ralph Hasenhuttl will learn, but it might be an expensive one with two games coming up against Fulham & West Ham that will see us either still in the fight for a top six place or potentially drop down into the mid table.
If I had to call it I would say Stephens will play, he has the experience, but he is a good squad player rather than a truly consistent performer over a long period, but he can put in a shift, no one knows whether Salisu is the new Virgil Van Dijk or the new Vegard Forren.
Photo: Action Images
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