June 25, 2024

The loanee Mason Holgate’s transfer to Sheffield United via his parent club Everton has left Saints short on defensive cover, therefore they have promoted one of their U21 players into the first team squad to perhaps provide some cover.

Nico Lawrence’s name may be unfamiliar to many Southampton supporters; he was bought on an 18-month deal from non-league team Glebe FC in February 2022, and Tottenham Hotspur were also interested in the then-18-year-old.

Although he was initially on an 18-month contract, the Saints extended it until June 2025 in January 2023, and he subsequently went on loan to National League side Torquay United for the remainder of last season.

He would start 20 games for the rest of the season, which was pretty much every game after joining them, and be named the club’s young player of the year.

He joined Colchester United in League Two at the start of this season, still only 19 years old, to further his development, but after starting the first four games of the season, he sustained an injury that kept him out till today.

As he nears fitness, the Saints have opted to recall him from his loan spell and place him in the first-team squad till the end of the season.

According to Russell Martin, “Nico is back in the building now after his loan and there was a decision made on him.”

The manager went on to explain the choice and the reasoning behind it.

“A few clubs were interested in loaning him out, but he has been out of the building for some time, and I haven’t seen much of him.

“I’m impressed with what I’ve seen in just a few days of training. I sat down and talked with him.

“It was with Olly Lancashire, Carl Martin, and Jason Wilcox, and I want to see more of him, so he will practice with us every day.

“He has the opportunity to force his way into the squad and show us what he’s got.

“He’ll be better for four months. He’s been out for a while, and we want to get him in the best shape he’s ever been in.”

Lawrence, who turned 20 in November, is characterized as a ball-playing central defender who can also play defensive midfield and is well-suited to Russell Martin’s possession football style, which the Saints manager finished with.

“It’s a significant jump for him from where he’s been. His challenge is to be as prepared as he possibly can.

 

Nico Lawrence Signs For United - Torquay United

 

“He has some great tools, especially considering we got him out of non-league and he hasn’t been in an academy his entire career.

“There are some good traits to work with, and it’s great to see a young player have an attribute that you value.

“I’m excited about it, but I won’t claim he’ll be participating at any time. It will be determined by how he adjusts and does.

“Whatever happens, he will be better by the end of the season than he is today.”

So, having proven himself in the National League and League Two, the question is whether he is ready to step up to the Championship. Due to a lack of game time over the past 5 months, it is highly unlikely that he will feature in tonight’s FA Cup replay against Watford, a game that has highlighted the lack of depth in the centre of the Southampton defence since Holgate’s departure, with Jack Stephens the only dedicated central defender to deputise should Jan Bednarek or Tay

Will he get a game this season? Well, it appears that the manager believes that at some point he might.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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