BOSS Ralph Hasenhuttl explained his decision to recall Jan Bednarek to the starting XI at the expense of Mohammed Salisu, and insisted: "He deserves big praise."

Aside from the Carabao Cup contest at Newport County, Bednarek has had to settle for a spot on the bench at Saints this season.

Prior to Saturday's trip to Manchester City, the Poland international's only Premier League action this campaign came as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United at St Mary's.

Jack Stephens and Mohammed Salisu have been the preferred central defensive pair, which comes as somewhat of a surprise given Bednarek started 36 of Saints' 38 Premier League matches last season.

But he was recalled at Etihad Stadium, starting with Stephens as Salisu dropped to the bench.

However, the Ghanaian was called into action during the first half, replacing the injured Stephens. Between them, the central defensive trio contributed to an impressive 0-0 stalemate at the home of the champions.

Asked why he opted to change his central defensive pair from the start against City to bring Bednarek back in, with Salisu having kept a clean sheet against West Ham the previous weekend, Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo: "I said in the press conference during the week – it’s not always who deserves to play, it’s more who we need to play and what we want to play.

"He (Bednarek) is on the ball a little bit calmer than Sali in some moments.

"But Sali is also on a good way, so you could see when he was coming on, it was not such a big difference.

"But I thought it fits a little bit better and that’s the reason why I gave him the chance to play. I think he deserves big praise for what he did (on Saturday)."