Saints Boss Russell Martin issues a “Worrying verdict” as he discusses his selection dilemma following suspension ahead of West Brom’s clash …

The Southampton players that Russell Martin could start against West Brom following suspension…

Southampton manager Russell Martin is going to need to change his preferred centre-back choice following Jan Bednarek’s suspension for the upcoming visit of West Brom.

Russell Martin will have to break up his preferred Southampton centre-back partnership on Saturday next weekend for the visit of West Bromwich Albion.

The Saints boss has started experienced Poland international Jan Bednarek alongside summer signing Taylor Harwood-Bellis in seven of the last eight Championship games, with the duo helping keep a clean sheet during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Millwall.

A yellow card shown to Bednarek during added-time for a foul on Zian Flemming means the 27-year-old will now miss the clash with the Baggies, with the caution being his fifth of the campaign so far.

Martin now has a big decision to make in who he selects to replace Bednarek at the back that will be able to keep out a West Brom side that have scored 25 goals in 15 league matches so far.

Mason Holgate was the player Martin turned to against Preston North End in October to partner Bednarek when Harwood-Bellis was left out of the squad to build his fitness, though the Everton loanee has not featured since.

Shea Charles meanwhile has featured in 13 of 15 games so far this season and has played at centre-back during that time as well as in his more natural defensive midfield role.

It’s unlikely that club captain Jack Stephens will be fit enough to slot straight back into the defence, though Martin will likely provide an update on the centre-back next week as he closes in on a return from injury.

Bednarek’s suspension is the second that Saints have had to contend with this season after Ryan Manning had to miss the 2-2 draw with Preston North End after picking up his fifth booking in the previous match against Hull City.

The left-back was replaced in the starting XI by James Bree, who before the Preston game had played just five minutes of Championship football in the first 12 games of the season. His impressive performance against the Lilywhites saw him keep his place for subsequent wins over Birmingham City and Millwall, with Manning staying on the bench.

That should give Holgate and Charles plenty of optimism that if they manage to impress against West Brom they might well keep the shirt and finally get the run of starts they have been waiting for.

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