Southampton podcaster Steve Grant has claimed that Ralph Hasenhuttl has an ‘interesting dilemma’ on his hands due to the club’s form without captain James Ward-Prowse.
The English midfielder had been the very definition of a stalwart for the Saints in recent times, playing in 102 consecutive Premier League games until he received a straight red card against Chelsea.
His consequent suspension has meant that he has missed the last two Southampton games – matches which have seen the club go unbeaten, with a first league win of the season against Leeds United and then recording a draw against Burnley.
Should James Ward-Prowse come straight back into the Southampton team?
Before his absence, Ward-Prowse had been part of a Saints team that had failed to win in the league. So now, with the side improving without him, Grant has explained that this ‘worrying coincidence’ leaves Hasenhuttl with a big call to make.
While speaking on the Total Saints podcast, he explained (10:35): “I think bigger picture, last two games, our performance sort of getting towards the final third has been, it’s been a whole lot better.
“And I mean there’s a kind of worrying coincidence here that that’s coincided with James Ward-Prowse not being in the team. I wonder whether there’s something in that.”
He then added (11:20): “I think Ralph’s gonna have a gonna have an interesting dilemma next week, when Prowsey is available again, to see exactly how he fits all of these players into the team.
“Because I mean based on these two performances, I’m not really sure you can drop the Diallo.”
TIF thoughts on James Ward-Prowse and Southampton…
There’s no denying Ward-Prowse’s value to the team. He is of course the club captain, while last season he played in every league match, scoring eight times while claiming a further seven assists.
However, Ibrahima Diallo has been the man to replace him in Hasenhuttl’s lineup and it would be harsh to drop him considering the performances he has put in.
The midfielder has drawn praise from his manager, notably after the win against Leeds, where he said of Diallo: “He is a very dynamic midfield player with good speed and he can carry the ball quite well.
“His one against one quality today was decisive against a good opponent, definitely.”
With Ward-Prowse set to complete his three-match suspicion after the midweek Carabao Cup game against Chelsea, it will be interesting to see what happens for the following Premier League outing – perhaps both men will be squeezed into the team.