Having joined Saints during the summer, French-U21 midfielder, Ibrahima Diallo, has had to wait patiently for his first Premier League start.
Now, with Oriol Romeu suspended for today's match at Fulham, the former FC Brest player looks set to be selected alongside James Ward-Prowse.
Diallo, who has so far been limited to only six substitute appearances for Ralph Hasenhüttl's side, is seen as much-needed, long-term competition for Romeu and Ward-Prowse, both of whom have performed consistently well over the past 18 months or so.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Craven Cottage, Hasenhüttl told Total Saints that he was looking forward to seeing Diallo feature.
The Austrian said, "I was always saying that I’m very happy to have the chance now to give him minutes to play because he deserves it. He was waiting now for this. I’m sure that he will make a good game."
"I would like to see him in a team that has not too many changes, because then its easier to step in for a new player, when everything else is in the right shape and we play like we normally play. The more changes you have to make the bigger the loss of automatism can be, but even then its always possible to find quickly. Maybe you need the first minutes to find together, but we will work on this during the week."
Saints will be looking to extend their unbeaten Premier League away record to seven matches, having not lost on the road since the opening day defeat at Crystal Palace.
However, with Jannik Vestergaard, Danny Ings, Nathan Redmond and the aforementioned Romeu all likely to be missing from the squad, it will mean others needing to step up and contribute.
Despite those absentees, Hasenhüttl was putting a brave face on things, especially as he's had a full week to prepare his side for the match - a rarity in what is always a hectic festive Premier League schedule.
"We have another two sessions and then we can be hopefully on a level that we say ‘ok, we trust this team, this team works’ and we can go there and play the best possible game”
Hasenhüttl added, "The circumstances for the injuries is not the best, but it’s better to have it in such a week where you can try some things and then find the right decisions. This is ok."
Fulham, who will be looking to build on a run of just one defeat in five games, have been boosted by the availability of defender Joachim Anderson. The Danes' red card at Newcastle last week was successfully overturned on appeal.
Manager, Scott Parker, won't be in attendance though. He is currently self-isolating at home, due to a member of his wider family contracting Coronavirus. It means former Saint, Stuart Gray, will instead be the key figure in Fulham's dugout.
If Saints do pick up three points, it will be only their second win in eight Premier League attempts at Craven Cottage.
Ultimately, whatever the result, watching Diallo's performance will be a key focus of attention.
Article by Ben Stanfield
(Photo by Matt Watson, Southampton Football Club)