RALPH Hasenhuttl has admitted that he is having “very similar conversations” with summer-signing Lyanco now to those he had with Mohammed Salisu last season.

The Ghanaian defender joined Saints in August 2020 but due to a combination of injury and being forced to show patience by the Austrian boss, didn’t make his Premier League debut until February 2021.

Salisu then deputised often as a left-back towards the end of the campaign, but this term around he has been Saints’ ever-present centre-back.

He has started every game except the visit to Manchester City, where he made a first-half substitute appearance after the knee injury to Jack Stephens – and Salisu’s individual performances have exceeded just physical battles, although that reigned supreme when Michail Antonio and West Ham visited St Mary’s.

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Although he had to be patient, with Stephens out likely until the New Year Salisu can now bank on being Saints’ key man at the back, and at only 22-years-old his potential to develop is as of yet unmapped.

But reflecting on what it was like to make the £10million+ signing wait over six months for a debut, Hasenhuttl said: “They were very similar conversations to the one I’m having with Lyanco at the moment.

Daily Echo: The defender's most impressive performance of the season so far came against West Ham (Pic: Stuart Martin)The defender's most impressive performance of the season so far came against West Ham (Pic: Stuart Martin)

“He is a long-term project and it always takes time to get adapted to what we are doing. Sali was injured at the beginning, so it took a little bit longer to get his first step in the Premier League.

“But now he has shown he is the defender we want to have. I’m very happy to see how he has developed his game, especially with the ball. We have tried hard to develop his game and this is a better package now.”

With a ropey start to life at Saints in the EFL Cup vs Sheffield United, Lyanco will no doubt have to show the same patience his teammate did this time last yet – but with added depth in Hasenhuttl’s squad, he won’t be the only one.

He continued: “This season, as I said before, it will be very often for players waiting for their chance to play. Suddenly, it comes very quickly because we have a special tactic in our mind about what fits to different players.”