Nathan Jones has highlighted his delight to have Jan Bednarek recalled from his loan spell at Aston Villa as Southampton gear up to face Newcastle in their Carabao Cup semi-final.
With the news announced on Monday that the Poland international has returned to the south coast from the Midlands outfit, Jones explained the importance of the 26-year-old's return.
“We felt we needed a bit more experience in there,” admitted the boss. “Little bit of a leader, a little bit more of a voice.
“With the greatest of respect, we’ve got some young centre-halves. Some are in their first season in the Premier League and it’s a tough league. We just felt we need a bit of experience, a little bit of aggression, a little bit of something in there.
“We could have gone out and signed someone new and left Jan but as someone who knows the players, someone who knows the billing, someone that has played in an aggressive team before, we felt it was a logical one.”
Further positive news followed from Jones, who confirmed a number of players are nearing a return to first team action, with January acquisitions Mislav Oršic and Charly Alcaraz getting up to pace at Staplewood.
“You can be too bold with them or more silly with them and then you lose them but now we’re at a stage where everyone is up to pace.
“We’ve got Theo Walcott back as well which gives us something, Armel is closer. We’ve obviously got Janny B in who can also play because he played in the first game, I think, so we’re in a lot stronger position in terms of options.
“We’re going to need it because we’ve got Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday and then Saturday again so the squad is going to be needed and we’re going to need the aggression and energy."
Jones also provided a more detailed update on some of Saints’ longer-term absentees.
“Tino’s probably the furthest away in terms of we’ve got to be really careful with him. Not that it’s a bad injury but we’ve got to be really careful with Tino and we’re going to. The others are really close.
“Stuart Armstrong has been a groin thing where he’s had to have a minor procedure which is going to be days rather than weeks so that brings him closer. Armel’s exactly the same, Armel’s training and it’s just when we put him in.
“Juan’s is like Roméo, it was a bad injury in terms of muscular injury and to keep pushing and pushing him, we can’t. He’s a little dynamo and you can’t put him out there and say relax, calm down because he’s 100 miles an hour."