"Could end up being a secret weapon" - Russell Martin facing Carlos Alcaraz dilemma at Southampton: The verdict | OneFootball

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Football League World

·27 September 2023

"Could end up being a secret weapon" - Russell Martin facing Carlos Alcaraz dilemma at Southampton: The verdict

Article image:"Could end up being a secret weapon" - Russell Martin facing Carlos Alcaraz dilemma at Southampton: The verdict

This article is part of Football League World's 'The Verdict' series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more...

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Despite having made a decent start to life back in the Championship, in recent weeks, Southampton have begun to struggle.

The Saints won three and drew one in their first four matches in the league, but got a sharp reality check when they were beaten 5-0 away from home at Sunderland earlier this month and since then, they have gone on to lose four consecutive league matches.

One tactical change that Russell Martin has made in recent weeks is dropping exciting young talent Carlos Alcaraz to the bench.

Alcaraz started in three of the Saints' first four league matches, but since then, has been made to sit on the bench. During Saturday's defeat to Boro, he was an unused substitute for the first time.

Explaining his absence after the match, Martin told BBC Radio Solent: "I see the players every day. When you are asking people to play a certain way - Charly is a young man and doesn't speak the language well, if at all."

"We are asking him to play in a team with a lot of structure and there are things he knows he needs to do better.

"I said to Gilly that I will get criticised for not bringing him on, but it's about who you trust at this moment in time.

"You're either all in with the team or you're not. At the minute, Charly needs to come over to that side really.

"It's been a difficult time for him. He's lost Willy (Caballero) and he's lost Lyanco, his two best mates in the group.

"He's a young man who is miles away from his home and he's had some difficult news about his dad.

"He's got all of that going on which people don't see and don't understand.

"We will help him through it and at some point he will be on the pitch for us and he will be fantastic, but now is not the right time while the team is struggling."

Should Russell Martin consider starting Carlos Alcaraz again?

Despite those comments, though, arguably, bringing in an attacking spark like Alcaraz could help turn things around.

With that said, below, some of our FLW writers have offered their thoughts on whether Alcaraz should be brought back in to the side.

Simmey Hannifin-Donaldson

On the one hand, Russell Martin sees his players day in day out at the training ground.

With that said, if he does not feel it is the time to put Alcaraz back into the starting XI, then you are inclined to agree with his assessment.

However, on the other hand, with Southampton continuing to struggle, I do believe that having exciting talents like Alcaraz in the line-up can energise those around the player, and potentially help Southampton if they do continue to be defeated.

In that sense, putting Alcaraz back into the starting line up is certainly something to consider.

At the very least, I would be using Alcaraz from the bench. At this level, he is far too good to be left as an unused substitute.

Sam Rourke

Given what Russell Martin has said regarding Carlos Alcaraz's situation off the pitch at the club, it's no major surprise to see the player not feature all too much of late.

It's sometimes easy to forget that he is just 20 and it'll take time for him to adapt to new methods, certainly ones that are as extreme as Russell Martin's.

Nonetheless, when Martin and Alcaraz feel the time is right, he's a guaranteed starter in my eyes.

He was one of the Saints' shining lights in what was a dismal campaign in the Premier League last time out, with his energy and dynamism standing out in the top-flight.

Ultimately, it's been a slow start for the Saints this term and particularly new Saints central midfielder Flynn Downes so there is certainly an avenue to see more of Alcaraz in the coming weeks.

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