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Frazer Richardson is Southampton's secret weapon
SAINTS have one of the Championship’s most potent attacking threats – playing in their defence.
Right back Frazer Richardson has already notched more assists this season than any other player in the second tier of English football, having laid on an astonishing 11 goals for his side from his defensive role.
That leaves his nearest team mates in the shade with the celebrated attacking duo of Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana having both recorded eight assists each.
Left back Danny Fox also has eight assists, albeit, unlike Richardson whose assists all come from open play, he does take a lot of free kicks and corners.
Richardson’s record is a remarkable feat – all the more given he has yet to actually score himself for Saints in his 54 appearances since joining from Charlton for £450,000 in July 2010.
Nigel Adkins encourages his full-backs to make overlapping runs to provide his side with width and it has paid off with Richardson’s astonishing assist rate, which is almost unheard of for a defender.
The other players who have managed 11 assists in the Championship this season – Chris Burke of Birmingham and Peter Whittingham of Cardiff – are attack-minded midfielders.
Throughout the entire Football League only six players have managed more assists, and all of those play in much more advanced roles.
In League One, MK Dons striker Dean Bowditch and Sheffield United’s attacking midfielders Stephen Quinn and Richard Cresswell have notched 12 each, while in League Two midfielders Lionel Ainsworth and Matt Ritchie have 12 apiece and Southend winger Ryan Hall has 14.
Saints are striving to reach the Premier League and Richardson’s stats look even more impressive when you compare him to the big names at that level.
Even if you isolate his league assists alone – Richardson has nine in the Championship and two in cup competitions – then only Manchester City’s David Silva, leading the attack for the best team in the land, and Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor, can boast better with 12 and ten respectively.
Next best is Antonio Valencia with nine, while Ryan Giggs and Juan Mata trail Richardson with eight.
To put it into a little more context, Chelsea and England left back Ashley Cole has the most assists of any Premier League defender, being the only one to feature in the top 25, with six.
This has been a massive season for Richardson whose Saints career got off to an unfortunate start when he badly injured his shoulder only two days after joining the club on a pre-season trip to Switzerland.
Richardson required surgery and found himself behind Danny Butterfield in the pecking order as a settled side pushed on to gain promotion from League One.
However, Adkins showed faith in Alan Pardew’s second last Saints signing and made the 29- year-old his first choice right back this season and has been handsomely rewarded.