Saints still seeking full-back cover despite 'big step forward' from Valery

Yan Valery’s versatility has impressed boss Ralph Hasenhuttl
Yan Valery’s versatility has impressed boss Ralph Hasenhuttl

RALPH Hasenhuttl praised Yan Valery for a “big step forward this season” but insisted the player does not change Saints' plans to find cover for injured Tino Livramento.

The 23-year-old Frenchman – who could switch allegiances and represent Tunisia at this year’s World Cup – reinvented himself as a central defender in the 2021-22 season.

Formerly playing right-back and even right-midfield for Hasenhuttl, Valery stepped in to play in the heart of defence in both five and four-at-the-back formations.

He made 11 appearances across the campaign, with five of those coming in the Premier League, including a draw against Spurs and win versus Arsenal.

“I think it was a big step forward for him this season, showing that he can also play centre-back,” Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo.

“He showed some good performances on this position and at the moment I see him more there than on the full-back."

Valery, under contract only until next summer with the St Mary’s side, looks set to continue playing as a rotation option in this new role.

With Livramento - who has returned to Staplewood Campus for recovery - out with an ACL likely injury until 2023, it leaves Hasenhuttl with just one player he deems a senior right-back.

That is Kyle Walker-Peters, who has also operated on the left, and the boss reaffirmed plans he already earlier revealed to pursue depth in this position.

“This is for sure that we have had three players who have always played this position this season, and now one is injured for a long time,” he said.

“We do something this summer on this position, this is also clear.”

Saints have this week been linked with a move for Liverpool full-back Neco Williams.