EYEBROWS were raised at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge when it became apparent Yan Valery was being tasked to play at centre-back, but Ralph Hasenhuttl insists: “You have to be brave, and he was.”

The 22-year-old Frenchman, a right-back by trade, was given the new duty after the boss revealed at the weekend that Valery had been training centrally in injured Jack Stephens’ absence.

Having never played there, his performance up against the likes of German international Kai Havertz and former England player Callum Hudson-Odoi in the 1-1 draw was spirited and not without merit.

And speaking to BBC Radio Solent and the club website following the game, Hasenhuttl praised the young defender’s application.

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He said: “Yan Valery at the back as a centre-back for the first time in his life against the Champions League winners, you have to be brave and he was, he did also a fantastic job today.”

Daily Echo: Yan Valery hasn't featured in the Premier League since a defeat to Arsenal in January (Pic: Stuart Martin)Yan Valery hasn't featured in the Premier League since a defeat to Arsenal in January (Pic: Stuart Martin)

His position wasn’t the only untested aspect of the Saints team, with a brand-new five-at-the-back formation to match Thomas Tuchel’s, that Hasenhuttl says they had barely even had time to train in.

It saw a front three of Adam Armstrong and Nathan Tella sandwiching focal point Che Adams in attack, while Valery was tasked on the right of a central-defensive trio alongside Lyanco and Mohammed Salisu.

“It’s something completely new,” Hasenhuttl added, “we have never done it before.

“We had no time to train it, only in one short session but finally you see how tactically developed these guys are in their minds now.

“They immediately know that they can put it on the pitch, they go out and are completely convinced, finally to do a good job against top teams.”