Southampton recorded a much-needed 2-0 victory at St Mary’s over Fulham on Wednesday night and the return of defender Maya Yoshida was a serious boost.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side climbed out of the relegation places by beating 19th-placed Fulham in impressive fashion at home.
The Saints were in front after 23 minutes thanks to Oriol Romeu’s thunderous strike from range, before James Ward-Prowse added a second to make sure of the points before half-time.
Southampton are now up to 17th in the league table following the win and have a two point cushion ahead of Cardiff City in the drop zone.
There were a number of positive displays to help the South Coast club win and the inclusion of Yoshida in the backline was a big one.
The 30-year-old featured in his first league game since 2 January and it’s no surprise that his calming influence guided the team to victory.
Yoshida was absent for a month due to his participation in the Asian Cup with Japan, but oddly manager Hasenhuttl opted not to bring him straight back into the team when he was available again.
The centre-back watched from the bench defeats to Cardiff and Arsenal, but his return against Fulham proved what the team has been missing.
Yoshida is a real leader in the heart of defence and his experience can’t be underestimated in the relegation run-in.