JAN Bednarek has impressed Ralph Hasenhuttl since the manager’s first day in charge – and will be a key player during Saints’ battle to avoid relegation.

Having broken into the Saints first team under Mark Hughes last April, Bednarek was restricted to two Premier League outings by Hasenhuttl’s predecessor during the first four months of the season.

But he has been an ever-present under Hasenhuttl, playing all 11 Premier League games since the Austrian arrived at the beginning of December.

“I’ve seen him from the first day as a really good player,” says Hasenhuttl.

“From the first training situation I had the feeling he could give us much more.

“From the moment I came the trust I put in him he’s paid back every minute he’s played.

“He’s been amazing. The saves he’s made sometimes have helped us to get a lot of points.

“I’ve been thinking the positives and deficits every player has, and I haven’t found a lot of deficits in his game.

“That shows me how well he’s done until now.”

Bednarek is displaying the talent that persuaded Saints to pay Lech Poznań £5.7m for his services in July 2017.

Still only 22, he is the youngest of Saints regular centre-backs and won the first of his eight international caps within a couple of months of signing for the club – including Poland’s three matches at last year’s World Cup finals.

Hasenhuttl vowed to make changes to his defence after the 2-1 defeat at home to Cardiff City, but Bednarek is not expected to make way.

Asked if he was surprised by Bednarek’s lack of game-time before his arrival, Hasenhuttl said: “Every manager has a different view. Maybe this player is not perfect for him. It’s difficult to say.

“Sometimes you need a different type of player, a different centre back.

“That’s football, it changes so quick and that’s what I tell all the players.

“At the beginning, [James] Ward-Prowse was not really the big player for me. I didn’t see the stuff in training I wanted to see.

“But after two or three weeks, one meeting and telling him what he missed he showed me immediately he can do this.

“If you are an open-minded manager and ask about your view on a player and ask yourself the good and bad things suddenly the situation changes completely.

“That’s what happened to Prowsey and maybe it was the same for Jan Bednarek.”

That’s football.”