There is a real cause for opti­mism at Southamp­ton, with a key man return­ing to train­ing.

Eagle-eyed Southamp­ton fans will have spot­ted Kyle Walk­er-Peters step­ping up his come­back, with the Saints post­ing a train­ing video on ‘X’ that showed the right-back join­ing in with his team­mates.

The 26-year-old has missed the last two league games hav­ing sus­tained an injury in the 3–0 FA Cup defeat against Liv­er­pool on 28th Feb­ru­ary after com­ing on to replace James Bree; a play­er mak­ing his own injury return in that game.

Pri­or to his recent absence, Walk­er-Peters had played every minute in the Cham­pi­onship, such is his impor­tance to Rus­sell Martin‘s side, and has arguably been Southampton’s best per­former this sea­son.

Now, with ten games left for Southamp­ton to hunt down an auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion spot, the fullback’s return has come at a cru­cial time for his side.

Kyle Walker-Peters key to Southampton promotion chances

Southampton FC v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet Championship
Pho­to by Robin Jones/Getty Images

One of the biggest sur­pris­es of last sum­mer was that Walk­er-Peters remained a Southamp­ton play­er once the trans­fer win­dow closed.

The for­mer Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur man is sim­ply too good to be play­ing Cham­pi­onship foot­ball and Mar­tin can’t have believed his luck that he would have the man capped twice by Eng­land to call upon this sea­son. Rather than sulk about not get­ting a move, Walk­er-Peters has used this oppor­tu­ni­ty to show just how good he is, becom­ing an inte­gral mem­ber of Martin’s side.

The fullback’s abil­i­ty going for­ward has meant he has thrived in Martin’s pos­ses­sion dom­i­nant side and his two goals and two assists in the Cham­pi­onship bare­ly begin to tell the sto­ry of how good Walk­er-Peters has been in attack. He is defen­sive­ly sol­id too, and Southamp­ton look a far bet­ter team with him in it.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly giv­en his per­for­mances, Walk­er-Peters was report­ed­ly a tar­get for Chelsea in Jan­u­ary and Mar­tin could not speak high­ly enough of the defend­er at that time, as he said: “He (Walk­er-Peters) has some incred­i­ble attrib­ut­es and does stuff I’ve nev­er seen before. He’s a real­ly gift­ed per­son.”

In Walk­er-Peters’ absence, Mar­tin has exper­i­ment­ed with his back four. Tay­lor Har­wood-Bel­lis has been out­stand­ing along­side Jan Bednarek in cen­tral defence for the major­i­ty of the sea­son but has found him­self play­ing an unfa­mil­iar right-back role to cov­er Walk­er-Peters as well as allow­ing cap­tain Jack Stephens to take up a cen­tral defen­sive berth.

The Saints have won both league games that Walk­er-Peters has missed, but have con­ced­ed five goals in that time which will be deeply con­cern­ing for Mar­tin. With the busi­ness end of the sea­son upon us, Southamp­ton will need to tight­en up and hav­ing their first choice right-back return to the side will undoubt­ed­ly help with that.

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