Saints Give Sam McQueen New Six Month Deal
Tuesday, 20th Jul 2021 09:17
Some Saints supporters have expressed delight in the club offering Sam McQueen a six month contract as they see it as a sign he is ready to challenge for a first team place at St Mary's again, sadly I think this is nothing more than a fine gesture by the club although I truly hope I am proved wrong.
It has been over 3 years since Sam McQueen last kicked a ball for Southampton FC, his last games for the club came in the final game of 2017/18 season when surprisingly Mark Hughes restored him to the squad after four months in the wilderness, at this point he had not played for the club since December and indeed his only games up to May had been four short cameo's off the bench and a 90 minute stint in a draw at Old Trafford in which he played well.
In the run in to staving off relegation he came on at Swansea City for the last nerve wracking 7 minutes and then 9 minutes also off the bench in the final game against Manchester City.
In truth at this point in time his career was at a crossroads, he was 23 and aside from a four month loan spell at Southend United in the Premier League he had played just 20 times for Saints after finally breaking through in 2016/17 season, but these appearances totalled just 750 minutes with the bulk being off the bench.
So when he went out on loan to Middlesbrough at the end of the August transfer window in 2018 he needed to make a big impression, sadly this was not to be the case, he had struggled to get into the Boro first team and by the time Crystal Palace arrived in the EFL Cup on 31st October he had played just 135 minutes league football starting just the once and had mainly been an unused sub in the 10 League games he could have played in.
So he may well have felt the game against Palace would have been a good chance to show what he could do, Ironically he had played a decent part in Saints run to the Final two seasons earlier when he started his breakthrough into the squad, although he had not been selected even on the bench when Saints had played the first game of that run at home to Crystal Palace and he had been on the bench at Wembley.
But here he was two years later and he needed to kick start his career again, but 25 minutes in he would suffer a cruciate ligament injury that owing to further complications means he has not kicked a ball since that fateful night almost three years ago.
Luckily he has had the security of a contract at St Mary's that ran to the summer of 2021 to ensure he hasn't suffered financially, but now that contract has ended.
He would have been insured and it must have been tempting for Saints to perhaps suggest at some point along the way that he should retire through the injury allowing the club to claim some sort of compensation and also save on wages, certainly in the last 18 months with fans not allowed in the stadium and revenue dropping it must have been discussed at boardroom level, but to their credit the club seemingly never pushed this forward as an option to McQueen himself and offered him all the support they could.
All Saints supporters were glad to hear that the club have now offered him a six month contract in order to let him train and regain his fitness and some fans feel this might be good for the club as it would provide depth to the squad and cover.
As much as i would like this to be the case, I sadly think this is no more than a generous gesture from Saints, they could have cast him adrift and saved money, but they have continued their pastoral care after the obligation to do so has ended and they should be commended on that.
But could there yet be a happy ending at St Mary's for Sam McQueen ?
It would be easy to go with the flow here and suggest their might be, but taking a cold hard look at the situation it doesn't look likely.
There are several factors involved, firstly the seriousness of his injury and the complications that meant that rather than being a problem that should have kept him out for around 10 months to the start of the following season, it has stretched on for two years beyond that.
Secondly there are the fitness levels he will have lost in that time, it could take him three months to get to the fitness levels needed in the Premier League, in normality after a summer break it takes a fit player six weeks to get back to prime fitness, there will be a loss of stamina and strength not to mention match sharpness, even if his knee is back to a level he can play again, it won't mean he is ready to physically.
Then there is the situation mentally, this will also be a factor, has he the mental strength to pull through it and to put himself into the tackles and the pain needed.
Fourthly his age is against him, he is not a spring chicken, by the time this six month deal ends he will be days off the age of 27.
Lastly and again I am loathe to say this given his situation, but he was past the promising youngster stage when this happened and he had not established himself at St Mary's hence his loan move, he had undoubted talent, but he was not pushing anyone for their place on the left hand side of the pitch, he was a good squad player and back up, but no one was claiming he was up to being a first team regular and at 23 it was an age that he really should have been.
If he had not got the injury I don't think he would have become our left back, at best he would have been in the mode of Jack Stephens, a reasonable back up to have but not up to being a Premier League regular, the most likely outcome would have been that a decent loan spell might have seen him find a good Championship club, but he was on a good salary at St Mary's and he may have spent the last three years out on loan a lot.
We will never know that though and now he has six months to try and find out if he can play again, not just at Saints but at any level and I truly wish him well in this quest, i really hope that he proves me wrong and that at some stage in the next six months he is back in our squad and we offer him a longer deal, but I am not holding my breath.
Sam McQueen deserves to succeed and it is fair play for Saints for at least giving him the chance to do so even if it is not at St Mary's, if they had let him leave quietly now he would have found it hard to find a club who would have been prepared to help him build his fitness up in the hope that he would be able to play again.
Saints have offered him that opportunity and getting fit is the first big battle Sam has to overcome and I wish him good luck in that, hopefully he can do that with Saints and at the end of his six month contract he will be able to find a new club and enjoy a good career in football, sadly we will might know what he might have achieved.
Photo: Action Images
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