Southamp­ton are joint-first across England’s top four leagues for most sub­sti­tute goal involve­ments and the cred­it has to go to Rus­sell Mar­tin.

Southamp­ton have one of the best squads the Cham­pi­onship has ever seen.

With a pletho­ra of Pre­mier League qual­i­ty play­ers, includ­ing Kyle Walk­er-Peters, Che Adams and Jan Bednarek, to name a few, Rus­sell Mar­tin has the lux­u­ry of select­ing a star-stud­ded squad every week.

The Saints can field a team that is far too good for the sec­ond tier which means their bench is also stacked with class in abun­dance.

In the mod­ern era, sub­sti­tutes are becom­ing more impor­tant than ever. With match­es last­ing longer and man­agers able to make five subs in league match­es, play­ers com­ing off the bench have made an incred­i­ble impact this sea­son.

Southampton FC v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Pho­to by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Get­ty Images

Southampton top English football for most substitute goal involvements

In their hunt for auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion, Southamp­ton have seen their loan sign­ings pull off sev­er­al res­cue acts.

Ryan Fras­er, who is cur­rent­ly side­lined with an injury, has scored four goals and sup­plied one assist from the bench while Jan­u­ary arrival Joe Roth­well isn’t far behind.

The 29-year-old, cur­rent­ly on loan from Bournemouth, has come on as a sub twice to net braces in wins over Hud­der­s­field Town and Sun­der­land.

With­out the impact of their subs, the Saints would be much fur­ther away from the division’s sum­mit but instead, they are nine points behind sec­ond-place Leices­ter City with two games in hand to put a dent into that deficit.

Accord­ing to Opta Ana­lyst, Southamp­ton are joint top for sub­sti­tute goal involve­ments (28) with fel­low pro­mo­tion rivals Ipswich Town.

Mar­tin is indeed rivalling Kier­an McKen­na for his excel­lent use of sub­sti­tutes.

Russell Martin is getting it right

Deci­sion-mak­ing in man­age­ment is a bal­anc­ing act that is dif­fi­cult to get right, but in terms of tim­ing sub­sti­tu­tions to per­fec­tion, the Saints boss has been spot on.

A man­ag­er can often come under scruti­ny from fans for tak­ing a cer­tain play­er off, how­ev­er, Martin’s deci­sions late on in match­es have giv­en his side every chance of win­ning pro­mo­tion auto­mat­i­cal­ly.

In the 2–1 vic­to­ry over Hull City in Octo­ber, Fras­er came off the bench to score the win­ner and against Hud­der­s­field in Feb­ru­ary, he brought Roth­well on for Will Small­bone, who scored a brace to get his side back into the game.

It’s these moments, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a pro­mo­tion race, that can prove piv­otal.

And if Southamp­ton do go on to reach the Pre­mier League, sup­port­ers have Mar­tin to thank for his well-timed sub­sti­tu­tions.

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