“We have missed him so much” – Southampton’s Russell Martin plays up the importance of AFCON flop

Aribo played just a hundred and nine minutes at the AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast despite being fully fit all through the competition.

Southampton manager, Russell Martin has reiterated the importance of Super Eagles midfielder, Joe-Ayodele Aribo to his team despite his struggle for playing time, reports.

Aribo, 27, has struggled to impress for club and country this term, with fifteen of his twenty-two EFL Championships appearances coming from the bench.

His outing at the AFCON 2023 tournament wasn’t any different either as he struggled to break into the first team, and even when he came on, he barely made any impact.

However, desperate to turn his fortunes at the club around, on his return from Ivory Coast, Aribo donned the captain’s armband off the bench.

The former Rangers midfielder displayed a true leader’s performance on the pitch by pulling a goal back for his side in their league clash against Hull City, drawing praise from his manager’s lips.

“He was amazing, we have missed him so much. He showed that the other night when he came on and I think he is ready to start games now but he has been away for a while. He is a huge player for us and you can see why, that is why he wore the armband in the second half when Adam went off,” Russell Martin said in quotes revealed by the Daily Echo.

Aribo’s goal against Hull City was his second of the season, and with his coach’s promise of more game time, the London-born midfielder is primed to pick form and become a household name at the Saint Mary’s stadium again.

Southampton are currently in 4th place on the EFL Championship table, eleven points behind Kelchi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi’s Leicester City.