AMBITIOUS Thierry Small is frustrated with the lack of first-team opportunities in his debut season at Saints but will assess his role this summer before considering a loan move, according to the Daily Echo.
The talented 17-year-old wants to cement a first-team role at St Mary’s and will only consider a loan elsewhere as an option if it turns out he won’t be involved, even after a pre-season at its active.
Former Everton starlet Small is unlikely to be short of potential takers for a temporary stay elsewhere, but would be looking to claim a place in a league or top-flight League One side.
Small has not had a pre-season heading into this campaign with the Saints, due to his situation at Goodison Park, and has therefore fallen behind on his match-fitness.
The youngster enjoyed a positive debut season at Saints from a normal perspective, training with the first team every week, playing at Under-23 level and impressing the coaches in training.
But as legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti gave the 16-year-old Small his senior debut for the Toffees last season, he has big potential to fulfill and is way ahead of his age.
Those close to Small understand that there is no substitute for regular and meaningful senior minutes, and the defender is focused on impressing the Saints hierarchy.
Small was made his first-team debut by Ralph Hasenhuttl in the FA Cup fourth round win over Coventry City, but the culture shock of the occasion got the better of him and he was substituted at half-time.
“It tested him, definitely. He was very nervous, he’s very young and it was a big crowd,” the Austrian said at the time. The club is aware of Small’s ambitions and desires.
“Maybe it wasn’t the perfect time to start, but I wanted to see how brave he was and what he could do with it. He had some good moves in attack but in defense he was a bit shy .
“It’s not possible in the FA Cup, you have to be there immediately. He will learn it. There is still a lot to improve but he will improve.”
Small ended his Premier League 2 season for Dave Horseman’s B team with the winner in a 1-0 win over Sunderland, in front of St Mary’s supporters.
The ACL injury suffered by Tino Livramento, which will keep the 19-year-old out for the rest of 2022, likely ends Kyle Walker-Peters’ stint as a left-back in the Hasenhuttl side.
While Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo they could pursue a new signing to replace Livramento in the summer transfer window, that currently leaves Saints with just two fit senior full-backs. Jake Vokins, 22, and Kayne Ramsay, 21, could also return from loan spells at Ross County.
Small wants to assert himself in the country, and will seek to find a solution that ensures him to continue his progress and feeds his appetite.
A message from the editor
Thanks for reading this article – we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.
Subscribing to the Echo means you have unlimited access to the latest Saints news, features and coverage – all with a lightweight advertising website.
You will also have full access to Saintsmoreyour new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and more.
Don’t take my word for it – subscribe here to see for yourself.
Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group – Southampton News – Breaking news and incidents
Follow the latest judicial and criminal news on our dedicated Facebook group – Hampshire Court and Crime News