Mohammed Salisu: Ghanaian centre-back makes Southampton debut after six months

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After six months of waiting, Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu finally made his debut for Southampton as they handed Wolves a 2-0 defeat in the FA Cup on Thursday. 

The 21-year-old saw 90 minutes of action, helping The Saints progress to the sixth round of the cup competition.

In the end, second-half goals from Danny Ings and Stuart Armstrong decided the fixture at Molineux. 

Salisu joined Southampton in a four-year deal from Spanish side Real Valladolid in August last year. 

Owing to an injury suffered while in Spain, the defender had to delay joining Southampton training until after a month, ultimately linking up with his new teammates in the week of commencement of the Premier League season. 

Despite being ever-present at training, Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl overlooked the Ghanaian in his matchday squads until December where the centre-back was drafted into the set-up for a league clash with Brighton & Hove Albion. 

He went on to make six consecutive appearances on the bench before sustaining another injury just before the New Year, ruling him out of an FA Cup encounter with Shrewsbury Town in which the club had hoped to hand the Accra-born a debut.

"He [Salisu] came to us with a medical issue and we knew he probably won't play until October," Southampton chief executive officer Martin Semmens explained to the BBC last month.

"From our perspective, we made that decision [to still go ahead with the transfer]. That decision is on me, it's not on him or [Southampton manager] Ralph [Hasenhuttl]. We made that decision because we believed he's going to be a superstar in the future.

"We expected him to be available from the middle of October and in November he was getting on track, then he had a setback that probably pushed him into December.

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"Just when he was ready, just when he was training every day and doing really well he picked up a muscle injury, I think after the Fulham game. So he was ready to play and if fit, Ralph would have selected him but he picked up a muscle injury. He's not too far away.

"I think we need to be really clear here: we are exceptionally happy with him as a person and a character. He's physically great and fits our system and Ralph loves working with him and he'll be a great player in our future."

Having turned down his maiden Ghana call-up in 2019 due to injury, Salisu could be handed another invitation for next month's 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.