Southampton have recalled defender Jack Stephens from his loan spell at Middlesbrough.
The 21-year-old joined the Sky Bet Championship leaders in July and had been expected to remain there for the duration of the season but, to the frustration of Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, he has made only five first-team appearances.
Four of those five appearances came in the Capital One Cup, and Koeman told Southampton’s official club website: “Jack is back from Middlesbrough.
“He wasn’t playing there and then why is he on loan if he doesn’t play? It’s better for him to come back.”
Shortly before joining Middlesbrough, Stephens was given a two-year contract extension to keep him at St Mary’s until 2019.
His return, incidentally, comes shortly after reports Koeman could prematurely terminate defender Steven Caulker’s season-long loan deal from parent club QPR.