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Southampton Promote Youngster To First Team Squad
Tuesday, 6th Feb 2024 09:04

The departure of loanee Mason Holgate to Sheffield united via his parent club Everton has left Saints short of cover in the defence and now they have promoted one of the U21 players into the first team squad to perhaps offer some potential cover.

The name Nico Lawrence might not be familiar to many Southampton supporters, he was signed in February 2022 from non league club Glebe FC on an 18 month contract and at the time Tottenham Hotspur were also interested in the then 18 year old.

Although he was initially on an 18 month contract, in January 2023 Saints extended that until June 2025 and he then joined National League side Torquay United on loan for the rest of last season.

He would start 20 games in the remainder of the season, which was pretty much every game after joining them and would be voted the club's young player of the year.

At the start of this season, still only 19 he joined Colchester United in League Two to continue his development, but after starting the first 4 games of the League season he picked up an injury that would keep him out until now.

Now as he nears fitness again Saints have decided to recall him from the loan spell and have put him in the first team ranks until the end of the season.

As Russell Martin explained to The Daily Echo "Nico is back in the building now after his loan and there was a decision made on him."

The manager went on to explain just what that decision was and the thinking behind it.

"There were a few clubs interested in taking him on loan but he has been out of the building for a while and I have not seen much of him.

"I really like what I have seen in the short period of a few days that we have trained. I sat down and had a conversation with him.

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

"He has an opportunity to force himself into the squad and to show us what he has got.

"He will be better for these four months. He has been out for a while so we want to get him in the best condition he has ever been in."

Lawrence who only turned 20 in November is described as a ball playing central defender who can also operate as a defensive midfielder who is suited to the possession football game that Russell Martin employs and the Saints boss finished with this.

"It is a big step for him from where he has been. His challenge is to be as ready as he can possibly can.

"He has some real tools considering we got him out of non-league and he hasn't been in an academy all the way through.

"There are some good attributes to work with and it is exciting when you see a young player who has an attribute you value.

"I am excited about that but I am not going to say he will be involved at any point. It will be dictated by how he adapts and how he does.

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

So having proved himself in the National League & League two the question is whether je is ready to step up to the Championship, due to 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 after the departure of Holgate with jack Stephens the only dedicated central defender to deputise should Jan Bednarek or Taylor Harwood-Bellis be unavailable.

Will he get a game this season ? well it seems that the manager feels that at some point he might.

Photo: Action Images

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IanRC added 10:42 - Feb 6
Good to see we are still bringing our own youngsters through as well as buying in young talent.

Bowlercow added 12:18 - Feb 6
A pity Simeu is not fit He may well have taken the opportunity to step up

highfield49 added 12:40 - Feb 6
The decision to promote Nico Lawrence to the first team squad is great news not just for the lad but also for the other youngsters in the U21 and U18 mix. It's difficult to imagine the team without THB next season but it's not a done deal and having Lawrence and possibly Dynel Simeu, amongst others, able to step up is good management.

SaintPaulVW added 13:45 - Feb 6
This is the advantage of getting rid of short term squad players like Holgate. Creates space for good prospects to shine.

WanderingSaint added 14:44 - Feb 6
highfield49, my understanding is that the arrangement is an obligation to buy IF we get promoted. I've heard that the player stated "100% will sign, if promoted." Things & thoughts could change though.

Nick, any inside info on the terms of the THB deal?

(This development seems to answer your article from yesterday re letting Holgate leave...)

DiscoStoobs added 16:47 - Feb 6
I hope we're able to keep THB. That ball from the back this weekend was phenomenal! Boof!

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