A number of Southampton players have been in action during this month’s international break, including summer signing Shea Charles.
The likes of Ryan Manning have turned out for Republic of Ireland, Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams for Scotland, and Charles for Northern Ireland.
The summer signing from Manchester City played the full 90 vs San Marino last week and started in the game vs Slovenia last night.
But the 19-year-old was shown a second yellow just before the hour mark and his nation went on to lose the game 1-0, with Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill saying after the game that ‘this is a learning curve for young players’.
And Charles has come under slight criticism from Saints fans since his £15million move in the summer; he often has a mistake in him and can be too relaxed on the ball, and the defensive midfielder hasn’t started any of Southampton’s last four now.
Mistakes made, but chances required
Charles remains a very young player. And despite having good pedigree coming from City, he lacks first-team experience, having been thrown in at the deep end somewhat with a struggle Southampton side this season.
He’s certainly shown glimpses of a very talented player and he’ll surely come good in the future. But right now he’s got a few lessons to learn, with his red card last night being a harsh lesson for him.
Russell Martin’s Saints have been inconsistent this season. They boast one of the worst defensive records in the league with 21 goals conceded already and so someone with Charles’ steel and grit could be needed throughout the campaign.
He’ll no doubt get more starting chances along the way, and there’ll be games where he’s more suited over the likes of Will Smallbone in the midfield.
And Martin will know that Charles needs that exposure to really start fulfilling his potential, because he certainly has a lot of potential as a player, so right now, Charles should perhaps be starting more regularly than he is.
Southampton return to action vs Hull City this weekend, though whether Charles starts or not remains to be seen.