MAURCIO Pellegrino could finally change Saints' system after the international break.

The St Mary's chief has previously been on the verge of swapping to a formation which includes three centre-backs.

But, despite working on it in training, has yet to go for it in a Premier League match - although used it unsuccessfully in the League Cup defeat to Wolves in August.

However, the 46-year-old boss has hinted that he will give this a go in a game at some point and with Saints yet to fully click under his stewardship, that time could come soon.

As has been well-documented, Saints have often struggled to score, which has led to calls for Pellegrino to start with two strikers rather than one.

With Saints having Maya Yoshida, Virgil van Dijk, Wesley Hoedt and Jack Stephens all battling for two central defence positions, there is certainly a logic to deploying three of them, considering the strength in this area.

Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos are also reserve options at the back, so the club have the numbers - and quality - to use this popular system, which Chelsea used in last term's title-winning campaign and has been widely used in the Premier League recently.

Those increased numbers at centre-back would, in theory, release attacking full-backs Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares to commit more time to supporting the strikers on the flanks.

There would also be scope within this change to then play two strikers together with an attacking midfielder behind in the number ten position, perhaps in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

That would, potentially, aid Saints in their mission to get the ball in the net a bit more than they are now.

Given Saints' quality at the back and defensive midfield areas and Bertrand and Cedric's willingness to attack, this could strengthen Saints' attack but at the same time not weaken their defence.

Currently, Pellegrino has been swapping his frontline centre-backs - Yoshida, Van Dijk, Hoedt and Stephens - around as to give them all a chance next to different partners.

Stephens will likely be most of all worried about his future game-time, considering he has not appeared in the matchday squad in the last three games.

The 23-year-old has been highly impressive during 2017, taking his chance after Jose Fonte's exit and Van Dijk's injury and transfer stand-off.

He and Yoshida formed a top partnership at the back, but that pairing has now been split up after Hoedt's £15m arrival from Lazio and Van Dijk's return to the fold.

That has resulted in Stephens, who has been with the club since he was 16, being pushed down the pecking, and despite his impressive displays finding himself fourth choice in recent weeks.

Japan international Yoshida knows he is under pressure to keep his place too, but a change to a three-at-the-back system would offer a solution to this dilemma and perhaps solve other issues Pellegrino has encountered with his team so far.

Because of this queue of worthy centre-backs it has left rookie Bednarek, the 21-year-old who was signed for £5m from Lech Poznan, very much on the periphery, only playing in the disappointing 2-0 defeat to Wolves in the Carabao Cup at St Mary's.

The same can be said for Gardos, who has played just 19 games in all competitions since his £6m switch from Steaua Bucharest in 2014 partly due to injuries.

The Romanian could well find himself offloaded in January, with his contract set to expire next summer and foreign clubs able to sign him on a pre-contract agreement from December.

The 28-year-old, who made one first-team appearance last season, signed a four year deal back in August 2014 but is unlikely to be handed a new deal unless there's a dramatic change in his fortunes.