JACK Stephens admitted waiting for playing opportunities at Saints over the past few months had been “really frustrating” and added: “I am just happy to be on the pitch.”

The 27-year-old defender had been an unused substitute for the St Mary’s side in nine out of 10 league matches – until being recalled to the starting XI for the 1-1 draw with Leicester 10 days ago.

Stephens deputised for the injured Ryan Bertrand at left-back and kept his place in the side for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

And while the full-back position is not his regular duty, centre-half Stephens is willing to learn in a bid to take his chance.

Torpoint-born Stephens told the Daily Echo: “First and foremost, I’m obviously delighted to be back in the team.

“I have worked really hard the past few months and it’s been really frustrating for me, not getting the opportunities.

“I just had to make sure I was ready and the opportunity to play has come up.

“At the moment, that’s at left-back. I am always going to give it 100 per cent. I am just happy to be on the pitch, really.”

He added: “Obviously at times it’s a little bit different with body position and sometimes I might get caught out but, on the whole, I like watching football and I like taking note of what’s going on – so I feel like I can play in most defensive positions.

“It is slightly different to playing on the right and in the middle but I want to keep learning and just do the best job I can for the team.”

Stephens was powerless to prevent Liverpool earning all three points against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men at Anfield, as Saints went toe-to-toe with last season’s champions.

Reflecting on that contest, the former Plymouth youngster added: “The feeling in the dressing room is we more than matched them for the game, created plenty of good chances, they had a few chances as well.

“I feel the two goals we gave away were soft and, obviously, we didn’t take our chances when they came around at their end.

“We were really frustrated we hadn’t come away with anything and it’s something we need to improve on moving forward.”

Should Bertrand once again be judged not fit to start for Saints, Stephens could occupy the full-back role for Tuesday’s home contest with Crystal Palace at St Mary’s.

And, with just four more league fixtures remaining, Stephens is determined not to let the campaign fizzle out.

“We had a good point against Leicester with 10 men – things went against us and we really dug in,” he said.

“On Saturday, I think you could see we haven’t given up on the season yet.

“We’ve got four games left. Still plenty of points to play for and we want to finish as high as we can.”