Jack Stephens has been involved in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first-team plans in recent fixtures. 

He made a rare appearance as a substitute during the 9-0 defeat against Leicester City and was subsequently handed a start in the 3-1 loss away at Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday. 

Stephens returned to the line-up for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, when Southampton were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Burnley. 

The 25-year-old marked his comeback with a late goal at the Etihad Stadium as he rose to meet James Ward-Prowse’s corner to net a consolation for the visitors. 

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Saints fans have since been discussing what role he has to play in the future, and these supporters have weighed up his credentials as a holding midfielder…

Read Southampton’s verdict

During his younger years, Stephens did operate as a defensive midfielder, acting as a shield in front of the back four.

However, as he has grown older, his position has been firmly established as a central defender, but he has hardly succeeded when he has played in the top flight. 

Stephens has proven on numerous occasions that he is not a dependable centre-back, making costly errors on a regular basis, much like his teammates in the same position. 

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Despite his defensive deficiencies, though, it is clear that he is the club’s most technically gifted central defender, and is capable of playing intelligent, line-breaking passes. 

With Oriol Romeu likely to need a rest at some point, and the pairing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and James Ward-Prowse clearly failing to thrive so far this season, perhaps finding a new function for Stephens would be beneficial. 

After all, it can’t get any worse, can it?

Would you like to see Stephens used as a holding midfielder?