Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl believes he took the right decision in picking Jack Stephens over Ghanaian youngster Mohammed Salisu in Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Fulham.
In the absence of injured first-choice centre-back Jannik Vestergaard, the manager had a choice to make between Stephens and Salisu for the game week 15 away tie.
Salisu has been awaiting his debut for The Saints since transferring from Spanish La Liga side Real Valladolid in August.
“For me, it was important [against Fulham] that I brought in a player who knew immediately what he was doing,” said Hasenhuttl told Hampshire Live.
“When you have three changes in the team you need to have as much automatism as possible.
“I am sure Salisu could also play well, but it is important not to have too many changes and to keep our shape so that the players know exactly what they’re doing and I think we made the right decision.
“It was important too that Jack showed that he could play on the left because I did not want to move Jan back to the left side.
“It was a little bit new for him but he is experienced as had the quality to handle this. He did a good job.”
Salisu made Southampton’s matchday squad for the first time for a 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this month and has since made Hasenhuttl’s bench on consecutive occasions.
After sealing his transfer in August, he delayed linking up with The Saints squad for pre-season due to an injury. He eventually joined practice in the week the Premier League kicked off and it then took him three more months to make his first match day squad.
“Salisu is the future of this club. It will take time. We know how long it takes for some players to step into the team,” Hasenhuttl added.
“He has so much potential and [at Fulham] it was more important for me, as I said, not to unsettle the team. It would have been difficult, I think.
“I am really happy that Sali is here and he shows to me in every session that he can help us.”
The Ghanaian could be handed a debut in January’s clash with third-tier side Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup.