SAINTS were forced to play in the Premier League without James Ward-Prowse for the first time in 103 matches but a “not normal” performance from his replacement helped inspire a first win of the campaign.

Frenchman Ibrahima Diallo came in for his first 90’ in the top flight since the 3-0 loss at West Ham back in May, and reminded fans of his potential promise during the victory over Leeds.

At just 22-years-old, and having scored his first Saints goal during the EFL Cup tie at Sheffield United in September, the talented midfielder has a lengthy career ahead of him yet – but he’s been limited to action due to mainstay Oriol Romeu and skipper Ward-Prowse.

It’s one of the few positions in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side that hasn’t seen rotation and tinkering on a match-by-match basis, before his hand was eventually forced following the captain's red card at Chelsea.

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“He is a different player, I must say, definitely a very dynamic one,” Hasenhuttl said of Diallo.

Daily Echo: The Frenchman was limited to action from the bench so far this campaign (Pic: PA)The Frenchman was limited to action from the bench so far this campaign (Pic: PA)

“I wouldn’t say more dynamic, but I think the end speed is good from him and that gives you a few other opportunities in the midfield.

“He can drive the ball through the centre quite well, and also against the ball, he is aggressive and can win duels. He is a very good No. 6 for me.

“I’m very happy for him that he did a very good job against Leeds after a long time without playing. To show up like this is not normal.”

According to stats from, Diallo was in the top five performers on the pitch last Saturday with a score of 7.4/10 – only Nathan Redmond, Armando Broja and Tino Livramento from the Saints camp exceeded that.

The youngster had a pass success rate of 84%, a match-leading four dribbles and two successful tackles.

And it was the alert midfielder’s tackle and interception inside the Saints penalty area that prompted the counterattack, led by Moussa Djenepo and Redmond, for Broja to net the winner in the second-half.

With Ward-Prowse’s suspension expiring after the EFL Cup meeting with Chelsea on Tuesday, if Diallo can continue to impress in the next two it will be a bit of a head-scratcher for Hasenhuttl to leave him out.

Daily Echo: Ibrahima Diallo will want a league goal to add to his Carabao Cup strike (Pic: PA)Ibrahima Diallo will want a league goal to add to his Carabao Cup strike (Pic: PA)

“It’s not only in this position that we have this positive problem,” the boss admitted, “in the full-back (position), we have Kyle Walker-Peters, who when he didn’t play last year created a big problem for us.

“This season we have, in Romain and Tino, signed two very, very good players in this position — and I really like what they offer me.

“We have to have these opportunities because we saw last season, especially in the second half, with a very young squad on the bench and nobody to come on and freshen it up.

“It now looks completely different, and this was the conclusion we had last season and the changes were made.”