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Salisu Could Be About To Make Southampton Debut Against Wolves
Wednesday, 10th Feb 2021 11:03

Reports are suggesting that a surprise debutant against Wolverhampton Wanderers could be summer signing and invisible man Mohammed Salisu, as Saints look to try and shore up their defence.

The story of Mohammed Salisu at St Mary's is a strange one, whilst we knew he was injured when he arrived and most accepted that given a lack of pre season training it would be some time before he would be ready, it was assumed that his first appearance in a Saints shirt would be some time around late October/early November.

The good form shown by Jannik Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek around that time meant that his skills were not in desperate need as Saints stormed up the table.

It was a little surprising as the season got into full swing and November came and went without his presence in the squad, but then in the 11th Premier League game of the season he suddenly appeared on the bench at Brighton to start a run of 6 games as a substitute.

In fairness looking back on those games it is easy in hindsight to see why he did not get on the pitch, all bar the 3-0 win over Sheffield United were close games, the other 5 saw 1 win, 3 draws and a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City.

So it is not unusual why he did not get a game, after such a long time out no manager would want to throw in a player who has not played a competitive game in 6 months and is untried at this level.

But just as we needed him against Liverpool, he picked up another injury resulting in another 5 games out of the squad and the situation was starting to become a little puzzling.

Of course the rumour mill went into overdrive with all and sundry coming up with reasons as to why he is yet to play, ranging from the manager thinks he is rubbish to that the player himself doesn't like the cold.

The last one is absolute rubbish, a quick look at the average weather in Valladollid in Spain shows that the temperature between November to February isn't much different from that in Southampton.

What has fuelled those rumours is the lack of information that has been forthcoming, as of yet he has not had the usual flourish that surrounds a new signing, there was no picture of him with the shirt or an interview and virtual silence on everything surrounding him.

The messages that have come out of the club whether in the media or from sources close to the club off the record, have always maintained that Salisu is highly rated as a player and that once the injury issues have been sorted then they have every confidence that he will play a big part at St Mary's.

Last week he suddenly returned to the bench for the trip to Newcastle and again the way the match went did not allow for him coming on, with Newcastle down to 10 men and hemmed in, it was understandable why we would not want to use a substitution on a defender.

But it seems that he is now ready to play , Ralph Hasenhuttl had this to say:

"This is the fittest he was ever so far, yes.

"He will be available to start."

"This was the plan (to play against Shrewsbury), it didn't work the first time," said Hasenhuttl.

"Let's have a look if it works now."

So it could be that Salisu will make his debut against Wolves on Thursday evening and from what the manager is saying it could be in the starting line up.

With Jannik Vestergaard coming back from injury only a few days ago, Hasenhuttl will perhaps not want to rush him into 3 competitive games in the space of 8 days, so is clearly considering throwing in Salisu.

Saints will also have Kyle Walker Peters available for the trip, but they will still be without 6 players with Ibrahima Diallo, Stuart Armstrong, Theo Walcott, Will Smallbone & Michael Obafemi out with injury & Takumi Minamino cup tied.

Photo: Action Images

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TimSaint added 11:26 - Feb 10
It is far more important to our set up and tactics to have KWP back in the starting line up.

We have been extremely poor defensively of late, so really do need to get Salisu up and running and an FA Cup game would seem an ideal opportunity.

I am not sure if starting him is the best option, but Ralph will know which way to call that. My concerns are that we need to win this match - it is all that is left for us this season and also the expectations that will no doubt be weighing down on Salisu.

Imagine if he makes a mistake, or heaven forbid, costs us a goal. Social Media would explode. Some have condemned him already and that is before he has even kicked a ball for us.

SaintPaulVW added 11:45 - Feb 10
I'm sure he's desperate to play. Diallo seemed to take a game or two to get his positioning right. so I think starting in such a key position where as we well know that every mistake can be a disaster may be a big ask. I certainly hope he gets some game time tonight.

There is almost half a season left so there is plenty of time left to make an impact.

SanMarco added 12:01 - Feb 10
I will get in quick with the 'I thought we already had an invisible man in centre of our defence' quip.

I will believe it when I see it is my attitude to Salisu actually playing.

sandywelsh added 12:22 - Feb 10
We have had an invisible man in centre of our defence since Vestergaard got injured his name is Stephens. I dont have any worries about Salisu playing because there is no way he can be worse than Jack Stephens!!!!

highfield49 added 12:23 - Feb 10
I'm going to be brutally honest and say that Salisu playing anywhere in defence is likely to be an upgrade on Stephens, purely because his concentration levels are not up to top level football.

LordDZLucan added 12:36 - Feb 10
I see the Jack Stephens haters are out in force again. Even if he has nothing to do with a defensive calamity he gets blamed. The fact of the matter is that, like it or not, Jan Bednarek was at fault for Newcastle's first 2 goals at the weekend and McCarthy and Bertrand conspired between them to gift them the third. Bednarek was also lucky not to get sent off for a pull back on the edge of the box. Yes, Jack Stephens does hit the odd bad pass and is not the fastest but he reads the game well. Also, everyone else in the defence is making mistakes at the moment. Also, we are not scoring goals at the other end of the pitch and Jack Stephens can't be blamed for that!

DorsetIan added 12:49 - Feb 10
Lord Lucan, check out the replays of the Newcastle game and then explain if you can why Stephens hadn't even made it back to the penalty area by the time the first goal hit the back of the next. It might have looked like it was Bednarek's fault but only because Stephens at RB was completely AWOL. Second goal was less obviously his fault but he allowed St-Max to pass to Almiron in acres of space in the area. Check out the Man U game too. Missed headers and kicking the ball without looking when on his arse, straight to McTominay to score.

He's been pretty poor in recent games.

saintmark1976 added 13:31 - Feb 10
So there is now a suggestion that we are going to give a first team debut to a player in what has now become the most important game of the season. Just lately with the Saints you just can’t make it up anymore. Lose tomorrow and to all intents and purposes our season is over. It’s obvious that we are not going to be relegated and equally European qualification is now beyond us.

In reference to the Stephens haters. When the forwards consistently fail to find the net match after match, what is it that the defence in general and Jack in particular are expected to do? Goals win games, our forwards aren’t scoring any and that’s the reason we are losing. Not Jack Stephens.

WestSussexSaint added 13:56 - Feb 10
I agree with SainMark on this. The cup WAS the tournament to blood new or young players but now I think it has to be our priority. Would like to see the cup game against Wolves use our strongest possible XI and Salisu can make his debut at the weekend in the league game.

Sadoldgit added 13:57 - Feb 10
If you don’t score goals you can still draw 0-0. We are losing because we are scoring less than we concede and need to shore up at the back.

halftimeorange added 14:00 - Feb 10
If Salisu should play I really hope that he is in his best position and not asked to do something that is beyond his experience. As for our forwards not scoring well, we don't really have any creativity when Armstrong isn't on the field.

SanMarco added 14:49 - Feb 10
Is thinking someone is not good enough to play in the EPL really 'hate'? I would say it is a football judgment. Plenty of real hate out there to go around (I don't do social media mind - so if any real hate for JS on there then people concerned are scumbags.)

I have to second DorsetIan in finding the idea that Bednerak was chiefly responsible for the first two goals as puzzling.

saintfrance added 16:18 - Feb 10
I am not a Stephens hater, no point in that, but I do think he is not a half decent RB, he slows the game down with his holding of the ball when a quick pass would get us up the pitch, to many passes go astray, I don't agree he reads the game well he is too often out of position and too often passes sideways and back

underweststand added 17:06 - Feb 10
...and about time, too.
Not his fault, but let's hope we can now see his best football from Day. 1

LordDZLucan added 20:17 - Feb 10
All I would add is that if people think we are not winning games because of one player then they are deluded. And continuing to make the same observations about one player week in week out is frankly to my mind tiresome. Ralph dies not pay any attention to this site just in case you didn't know.

Number_58 added 10:38 - Feb 11
For the first Newcastle goal Stephens took a throw in near the half way line, we lost the ball and Newcastle lumped it down to the gap where a right back would normally be. Stephens does tend to amble back admittedly, but if we'd not given the ball away there wouldn't have been an issue. Our problems under Ralph have often come when we've conceded possession cheaply and everyone gets caught out of position, especially with our lack of pace at the back. Hopefully the new man will help in this respect, although I'm not sure if making a debut in a team totally devoid of confidence with the temperature at minus 2 is the ideal introduction to English football.

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