Jan seeking reserves of strength

Last updated : 23 October 2008 By Chris C
Despite talk of getting the right blend of experience and youth, Jan Poortvliet's elevens have shown a worrying tendency to get younger and younger over the course of the season. This culminated with only a single outfield player over 22 against a one-dimensional Watford, with naive defending bringing its inevitable result.

Poortvliet has been hampered by the contract situation of several senior players with John, Skacel and Euell all up for grabs if suitable bids came in due to their high wages and the manager reluctant to play them until their contract situations were sorted out.

Rather predictably an intensive session on set pieces and the reintroduction of some older heads helped steady the ship even if Saints were hanging on in the second half despite a lively first half performance.

Poortvliet will have been encouraged, if not exactly enthralled, by the low key returns of Schneiderlin and the hugely experienced Euell in the reserves 1-0 defeat, with Schneiderlin's mistake leading to the only goal and Euell playing his way back to fitness.

Also on display was a rusty Romain Gasmi who played the final 20 minutes as he eases his way slowly back from a broken foot. Schneiderlin looks the closest to a return to the first team and Saints could do with his playmaking skills in the middle, particularly alongside the rejuvenated Drew Surman, who is relishing being back in midfield.

There was less good news on the sidelines with Wayne Thomas still on crutches, just when we most need his aggressive style of defending in the side.

The reserves fixture was notable for the appearance of trialist, Jack Boyle, inevitably just 18, with Saints now considering whether to make him a contract offer. Despite a nervous start, the former Celtic trialist grew in confidence and showed some good skills in his second half run out.