JACK Stephens will be handed increased responsibility in the absence of Maya Yoshida.

With the Japanese defender missing for a month due to international commitments, it will be left to the 24-year-old Stephens to fill the void in the heart of three centre halves.

Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard will be either side of Stephens, but it will be up to the former Plymouth man to run the backline, which is a huge vote of confidence from Ralph Hasenhuttl.

“What I like about Jack Stephens is that he’s a loud one, he can organise very good and that’s important for the central position of the centre backs because there you have to read the game and push out or take the guys to you so the space in front is not too big,” said Hasenhuttl.

“That’s one of the qualities Jack has and what I’m demanding from him and what he does.”

Bednarek’s return to the team under Hasenhuttl has been an interesting watch, and the Saints boss clearly rates him.

“He’s a very hard working guy,” reflected Hasenhuttl.

“He showed from the first moment on that he wants to fight for every centimetre, for every step for the team and that helps us to get more stabilised in the last row.

“He made a very good job against Arsenal and Chelsea with a few good saves in the last moment so it’s an important player for me.

“Not without mistake like everyone else. We all have mistakes in our game and must put them away but he’s a hard working guy and will earn more good games if he can keep working like he is until now.”

Of Vestergaard, Hasenhuttl added: "Against Cardiff it was not the best beginning for him but that shows I don’t look at just one mistake, I look at the whole package I get from him.

"He made a good development until now, he played fantastic against Chelsea and also against Arsenal at home."