‘Confidence knocked’ — Saints defender training up with Martin after nightmare injury

YOUNG defend­er Nico Lawrence has had a whirl­wind 12 months cul­mi­nat­ing in train­ing dai­ly with Rus­sell Mar­t­in’s Saints.

He has won a young play­er of the sea­son award, suf­fered a seri­ous ankle injury, had his shoul­der pulled out and still caught Mar­t­in’s eye. 

The 21 year old cen­tre-back joined Saints from non-league Glebe FC in Feb­ru­ary 2022 and soon emerged as a key man for the under-21s.

Hav­ing been out on loan for the last 12 months, Mar­tin has called Lawrence in to get a clos­er look at his skill set under the club’s new direc­tion. 

Lawrence told the Dai­ly Echo: “I have been train­ing con­sis­tent­ly with the first team. Being up there has been a big dif­fer­ence to under-21s.

Daily Echo: Nico Lawrence in training with Southampton's first teamNico Lawrence in train­ing with Southamp­ton’s first team (Image: Southamp­ton FC)

“It’s hard­er and the inten­si­ty is way high­er but every time I am up there, I am just try­ing to be the best per­son I can.

“The play­ing style is very sim­i­lar to what I like and it’s a case of adapt­ing to pass­ing and mov­ing. There are parts of that I need to devel­op.”

The young­ster added: “Espe­cial­ly if I want to get to the top with this team. Train­ing with them has mas­sive­ly improved me.

“The play­ing style is how I want to play but only time will tell. I will keep push­ing myself and keep work­ing and maybe doors might open.

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I didn’t get to stay the whole sea­son at Colch­ester but it feels good to be back.”

Lawrence made 20 appear­ances for Nation­al League Torquay dur­ing his first senior loan dur­ing the sec­ond half of the 2022–23 sea­son. 

Gary John­son’s side were unable to stave off rel­e­ga­tion from the fifth divi­sion but Lawrence was vot­ed the club’s young play­er of the year. 

“Torquay helped me grow, espe­cial­ly men­tal­ly,” Lawrence said. 

Daily Echo: Nico Lawrence is back playing for Saints in Premier League 2Nico Lawrence is back play­ing for Saints in Pre­mier League 2 (Image: Southamp­ton FC)

“Being in a rel­e­ga­tion scrap isn’t the great­est but as time went on there were a lot of games where we actu­al­ly need­ed three points.

“We won quite a few and we got into sce­nar­ios where we had to make late deci­sions on how to hold a lead and all sorts.” 

He con­tin­ued: “It was hard — but I enjoyed it, being in that sit­u­a­tion is where a lot of peo­ple can sink but it helped me build con­fi­dence.

“I want­ed to be the stand­out play­er and help the team get where we need­ed to be — it was unfor­tu­nate we didn’t do it in the end.” 

Lawrence was set to con­tin­ue his progress with a loan at League Two Colch­ester Unit­ed, mak­ing a strong ear­ly impres­sion. 

How­ev­er, an awk­ward land­ing meant he sus­tained a seri­ous ankle lig­a­ment injury in first half added time of his fifth appear­ance in August. 

It meant he was side­lined until Novem­ber and the tor­ment con­tin­ued on his first day back in team train­ing, requir­ing surgery again. 

“It was my first train­ing ses­sion back, I felt con­fi­dent and then some­one pulled my shoul­der out,” Lawrence revealed. 

“That was my con­fi­dence knocked again. I was shocked, I nev­er expect­ed that to hap­pen to me.

“I start­ed quite strong but I had the ankle injury and then my shoul­der. It was not nice at all, so this sea­son has been about men­tal growth. 

“I am not used to being injured. I have been able to see things from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Hope­ful­ly, that will help me in future sea­sons.”

Daily Echo: Nico Lawrence made five appearances for Colchester UnitedNico Lawrence made five appear­ances for Colch­ester Unit­ed (Image: PA)

He added: “Some­times I didn’t meet the time­frame of when I was meant to come back but then you have to show resilience.

“I had play­ers that are quite expe­ri­enced and guys who have gone through the same thing help me on the way.

“There was a few oth­er injured lads and we were doing things togeth­er. When you’re doing it togeth­er, it gives you con­fi­dence and dri­ve to do it the right way.”

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