It’s a good time to be a Southampton fan.
Premier League football, a strong yet skilful squad, a top-notch all-seater stadium and a youth academy with a conveyer belt of quality players.
Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are just three Saints Academy products who have gone on to be household names, and it’s unlikely that they will be the last.
Luke Shaw firmly established himself on the team-sheet at St Mary’s last season while one man who could really make a name for himself this time around is midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
The 18-year-old had made just two appearances for the Saints during their promotion campaign of 2010-2011, and neither came in the Championship, but he found himself in the starting line-up for their opening Premier League clash against Manchester City last August.
Ward-Prowse made 19 appearances including 15 in the league last term as the Saints endured an ultimately successful campaign in the top flight.
In light of those accomplished performances, he was named in Peter Taylor’s U20 World Cup side this summer, starting every game with the number seven shirt on his back.
The teenager signed a five-year deal in November, and despite appearing in almost half of Southampton’s league games last year, has made it clear his desire for more football.
“Now I’m almost established and I need to make that next step and challenge Jack (Cork) and Morgan (Schneiderlin) for a place in the team and hopefully establish myself in the side as I did at the start of last season.”
With the likes of Shaw and Ward-Prowse coming through the ranks to join a side which gave Man United and Man City a tough time of it last year, there are high hopes for Mauricio Pochettino’s team who many may fancy to sneak a top ten finish come May at a price of 9/5.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing