MANAGER Russell Martin described Jan Bednarek as Southampton's "boss on the pitch" after his side beat Birmingham 3-1 on Saturday.

Bednarek was awarded man of the match at St Mary's as Saints limited Wayne Rooney's Blues to just one big chance on goal - which they converted.

The 27 year old completed 115 out of 120 of his passes while also making nine recoveries and five clearances. 

“Janny B, I love him,” Martin responded with a wide smile on his face when asked by the Daily Echo about the Polish defender's performance.

“I’ve really enjoyed watching his growth over the last few weeks. He is the boss on the pitch. He tells the players where to go, he waits on the ball.

"It takes a lot of courage to do that on the field. I spend a lot of time talking with Jan because he is developing into a real leader.

"There are bits of his game that I discuss with him because I think he can improve on them. The only thing that you can really ask for from a player is that they are really receptive.

"He is really intelligent and really articulate. He wants to be a part of the process and he is a huge part of it. It was the right call today, he was amazing."

He continued: "The amount of balls he punched through the line in the first half - he helps his team hugely.

"I’m really disappointed for him and the rest of the defenders that we haven’t kept a clean sheet.

"The trio of Flynn, Taylor (Harwood-Bellis) and Janny - and Mason Holgate who did well in the week - are so important to the team. The fact we have had them consistently has been huge in our improvement.”

Martin was also quick to praise Flynn Downes for his "monstrous" performance in the middle of the pitch.

The former Swansea City midfielder made the most tackles of any player and also completed the most passes in the game (126 out of 130).

“He looks different physically because he was so ill when he arrived," Martin added. "The same goes for Taylor as well because he was playing while trying to get fit. It's really difficult to do that.

"Flynn has been monstrous. Physically he is a beast and he has so much composure on the ball. His teammates really appreciate the role that he has because it’s so tough being that guy.

“It’s not a position that we develop well in England. We haven't really produced a world-class one. In other countries, they have players like Rodri because that role is vital when you are playing positional play.

“He is huge for us. He has really stepped up and been brilliant. He gives the team an edge and keeps the ball ticking over. He has aggression driving the ball forward. The next step for him is to impact games that way."