In our latest Total Saints Opinion, Pete Frost (TSP Patron) reflects on the end of another transfer window - and some slight concerns about Saints' full-back positions......
"Well, another transfer window has closed and what a tricky couple of weeks it's been for Saints.
We eventually finished the window with one fit full-back in Ryan Bertrand.
Jake Vokins and Yan Valery have both gone out on loan until the end of the season, to Sunderland and Birmingham respectively; and, although it appears the club pursued a number of options, the fact is, until Kyle Walker-Peters is fit, the manager has a real conundrum at right-back.
The good news is that (hopefully!) it won't be too long until KWP is back. Until then, based on the Aston Villa game, it seems cover will be provided by James Ward-Prowse....or Moussa Djenepo!
Many fans will be astounded at the failure to capture a loan signing to cover the full-back positions, but it has to be said that we have been exceptionally unlucky with injuries in the last few weeks. Without them, it's likely we could have coped with what we have.
If Jannik Vestergaard had remained fit, Jack Stephens would have covered at either left or right-back - which he has done a number of times before.
Similarly, had Oriol Romeu or Ibrahima Diallo avoided injury, Ward-Prowse could easily have switched to right-back temporarily.
Don't get me wrong, neither option is ideal. But both would do a job if needed.
The problem for Ralph has been exacerbated by the performances of Jake Vokins and Yan Valery, both of whom are more suited to going forward rather than defending. The Austrian's apparent lack of confidence has seen the two youngsters shipped out to gain more experience.
But back to the failure to sign a full-back on loan....
When you sit back and actually think about it, it was always going to be a hard task. Any player coming in on loan is going to want to be playing regularly as, at the end of the day, that's what they won't have been doing at their parent club!
However, you have to say it’s unlikely that any of the names mentioned in the last couple of days would be picked ahead of a fit Kyle Walker-Peters and/or Ryan Bertrand.
Therefore, any likely signing would have been saying to themselves that, while they may have got a couple of games until KWP is fit, ultimately they'd end up warming our bench rather than that of Arsenal, Chelsea or Spurs etc.
When you look at it like that, it's not surprising we didn't manage to get anyone over the line.
Perhaps the most heavily linked was Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
From his point of view, with the previous perspective taken into account, you can see why he probably considered West Brom a better option than Saints or Leicester.
He will get almost guaranteed game time at The Hawthorns, which he would have been less likely to get at St Mary's or the King Power;
He'll also feel he needs that if he's to push for a place in the England squad, for the European Championships.
The Saints Owner and/or Board will probably get a bashing from some fans for failing to get a full-back sorted but, with KWP seemingly only a short-term injury, attracting someone to come in and back him/Bertrand up was, in hindsight, never absolutely critical.
No doubt it will be a difficult couple of weeks until Walker-Peters and Vestergaard are fit to play again but, once they are available, fingers crossed brings some light to the end of our injury tunnel!
With Bertrand currently out of contract in the summer, you get the feeling Saints recruitment team will be analysing a few full-backs over the coming months, when a longer-term replacement/back-up could well be more of a priority for Hasenhüttl.
Until then, let's hope Takumi Minamino, the one player we did manage to get in this January, provides some quality, excitement and goals at the other end of the pitch!"
Article by Pete Frost (TSP Patron) 2/2/2021
(Photos by Getty Images)