Jan Bednarek could be handed his first start since August as Saints look to patch up an injury hit defence for tomorrow’s FA Cup third round tie at Fulham.

The Polish centre half, who joined the club for £5m in the summer, has been restricted to just one senior game, playing 73 minutes of the Carabao Cup defeat to Wolves.

But with Cedric Soares, Jeremy Pied and Wesley Hoedt all out, Bednarek could get a chance to shine at Craven Cottage.

Bednarek could either fill in at right back, play in the centre of defence alongside Maya Yoshida with Jack Stephens at right back, or Mauricio Pellegrino could use him as one of three central defenders, potentially utilising James Ward-Prowse as a wing back.

Pellegrino said: “We have had five centre backs before with Virgil and now we have got four.

“Now we use Jack as a right full back with Cedric and Jeremy Pied outside and we have got two or three possibilities to play in this position and Jan is one of these.

“He is one option.

“Jan has been training in this position.

“Some moments an official game is not the same, but it’s a guy where the level of concentration is always really high.

“I think this period of time training has been improving, especially the tempo of the ball and characteristics and quality of English football that is not easy when some come as a foreigner.

“We have a day still to decide.”

It would be hard for the 21-year-old to come straight into a struggling side, but Pellegrino reckoned: “It’s not ideal but when you are in the top level you are ready or not. There is no middle point.

“It is for you or for the other? It doesn’t exist the other.

“In a difficult moment it is really important to grow and to wake up and to realise where are you.

“Some moments for the young people and even for people with more experience are really good as a growing.”

Of the injured players, Hoedt remains sidelined after his clash of heads with Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford, but could be back for the Watford game next weekend.

Pied is still awaiting a full diagnosis, while Cedric looks to be out until the game with Tottenham in a fortnight.

“Wesley we have to wait a little bit,” confirmed Pellegrino.

“Cedric more or less our view is for the Tottenham game.

“With Jeremy Pied we have to wait to do the study to see how many days he will be out.

“He feel something in his leg the other day but now we have to wait.

“Wesley after the Manchester game has been feeling some symptoms after the Lukaku challenge. A little bit dizzy something like that.

“The medical protocol recommends to keep him resting a couple of days and this is the main reason.”

Charlie Austin also remains sidelined, with a scan revealing the hamstring injury he suffered against Huddersfield was as bad as feared.

“Charlie will be out for a couple of months minimum,” reported Pellegrino.