June 25, 2024

Southampton missed the chance to cut the gap between themselves and second-placed Ipswich Town to one point but extended their unbeaten run in the Championship to 18 games with a draw against Norwich City.

There hasn’t been much that Russell Martin has done wrong since Southampton’s 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough, but there is a sense that he has created his own problems with the reintegration of Jack Stephens.

The captain missed 15 fixtures because of injury before returning to the squad, twice watching from the bench before getting involved.

Despite starting Saints’ 5-0 thumping of Swansea City and coming on as a substitute in a trifecta of wins, there is a sense that he has been forced into the team at right-back.

Replacing the versatile Kyle Walker-Peters, who has moved up the pitch, Stephens looks unnatural in the complex position after missing much of the campaign and should only play at centre-back, where he is strong.

The 29-year-old must wait his turn because of the dominant performances and partnership of Jan Bednarek and Taylor Harwood-Bellis -but he is the sort of character to want to deserve his place rather than be gifted it on account of his authority in the squad.

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