Yet to really make a splash in the January transfer window, it could be argued that Southampton don’t need to actively recruit that many new faces to the group.
Russell Martin’s confident Saints are on an amazing 19-game unbeaten run in the Championship, eyeing up the automatic promotion spots as a direct consequence of this staggering sequence of results.
But, to really push on and dethrone Ipswich Town from the coveted second position in the division, Martin could be tempted to bring in a new body here and there to strengthen his already strong side further without disrupting the obvious harmony already present at St Mary’s.
EFL Championship done deals: Every January 2024 transfer
With the arrival of the January transfer window, FFC has you covered for every in and out involving your club in the EFL Championship.
With that in mind, this is what a dream Southampton lineup could look like after January with three new signings coming into the XI…
Gavin Bazunu has taken some flak in his Southampton career to date, but the ex-Manchester City shot-stopper has improved in recent weeks significantly.
Picking up six clean sheets across Southampton’s last ten Championship matches, the Saints must feel far more reassured with Bazunu in between the sticks to fully go gung-ho when venturing forward.
Linked with a move back up to the Premier League with West Ham United, Southampton will do everything in their power to keep Walker-Peters on the South Coast this month despite possible tempting offers from higher-up suitors.
With two goals and two assists next to his name this campaign for Martin’s in-form Saints, Walker-Peters shone once more against Sheffield Wednesday last match – registering two key passes in the 4-0 demolition job, alongside notching up three successful dribbles to bamboozle a shell-shocked Owls defence on the day.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis is enjoying another stellar loan switch to the Championship this season from parent club Manchester City, helping Burnley to the second-tier title last season and now playing his part in the Saints going for promotion this campaign.
Amassing 98 touches in total against the Owls, Harwood-Bellis is key to Southampton’s calm and measured approach playing out from the back before an attack eventually bursts into life.
The more experienced of the two centre-backs at 27 years of age, Jan Bednarek has been a brick wall for the promotion-chasing Saints so far this season.
The towering Polish defender very rarely has an off-day in the stern yet stylish defence assembled by Martin, even helping himself to a single goal this season.
The first new face into the building at Southampton this January could well be Ben Johnson, the versatile West Ham defender itching for a move away from the London Stadium after finding himself stuck on the periphery.
A transfer target way back in the summer, the Saints have reignited their interest in the wantaway Hammers man this month according to football journalist Darren Witcoop.
The 23-year-old – who is only on £20k per week at the Premier League club – could well displace Ryan Manning on his potential arrival, the ex-Swansea City man prone to a blip this campaign for Martin’s promotion chasers – the Saints number three losing possession 15 times on an off-day against Watford in early December.
Joe Rothwell could follow Johnson in through the door at St Mary’s this month, the current AFC Bournemouth man an experienced midfielder at Championship level previously with 152 second-tier appearances tallied up on his career CV.
It looks as if Southampton will win Rothwell’s services on loan until the end of the season according to reports, with Will Smallbone a possible casualty in the starting side for the ex-Blackburn Rovers midfielder to feature regularly in the first-team fold.
Smallbone has been a solid addition to the central midfield trio, but with Rothwell’s know-how at the level sticking out, the 23-year-old could fall victim to a personnel change.
Flynn Downes will however keep his spot in the team regardless of new faces coming in, the West Ham loanee spraying balls around for fun in the centre of a midfield trio this campaign for Martin’s Saints.
Averaging 67.7 accurate passes per game this season, Downes’ composure with the ball at his feet could prove to be key when the nerves are ramped up towards the conclusion of the Championship season and wins are a must.
Stuart Armstrong has also been pivotal to how Southampton have played this season from central midfield, constantly on the ball – much like Downes – as a calm orchestrator of attacking moves.
The Scottish midfielder set up Adam Armstrong for the second goal of the 4-0 Wednesday victory, accumulating 67 touches of the ball in the comprehensive win before being hauled off by Martin.
Yet, despite being substituted late into the game, the Saints number 17 will be retained in the starting eleven for the crucial months to follow in the promotion race.
The final new signing that Martin could bed into his high-flying team this January is tricky AFC Bournemouth attacker David Brooks, allowing for Adam Armstrong to be played in a more familiar and comfortable centre-forward position again.
Linked with a move for Brooks all transfer window, landing the Welshman – who has won promotion from this level in the not-so-distant past before with the Cherries – could aid Southampton in their own current pursuit of glory and make a statement to the rest of the division in the process.
Having a part to play in 25 goals this season from just 27 second-tier appearances – scoring 14 times and assisting a further 11 strikes – Adam Armstrong can go back to just being a deadly finisher again instead of helping out with assists played in a makeshift right wing role on occasion with Brooks in.
Notching up 28 goals for Blackburn Rovers over his last full season at this level, Armstrong will hope he can match that number and perhaps even surpass that impressive total on the way to promotion being clinched.
The Newcastle United loanee has stood out for the Saints in recent games, playing a huge part in notable wins over Swansea City and Wednesday picked up along the 19-game unbeaten stretch.
The 5-0 Swans win was made even more emphatic courtesy of Fraser’s heroics from off the bench late on, scoring twice for Martin’s side in a fruitful 20-minute cameo.
Martin will hope Fraser can be as crucial over plenty of 90 minute games to follow, the 29-year-old exceptional on his day when donning his new red and white colours on the South Coast.