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Teenage kicks: Saints set new Premier League record
A LOT has been made this season about Saints’ willingness to promote their own home-grown players.
And further proof, if it were needed, came in the highly encouraging 1-1 home draw against free-scoring Manchester City at the weekend.
Amazingly, Saints ended the game with FOUR 18-year-olds in their side.
Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse have been regulars in Mauricio Pochettino’s side this season.
Calum Chambers joined them against City at right back after Nathaniel Clyne was ruled out through injury.
And Harrison Reed was brought in with just a few minutes remaining for his Premier League debut.
It is believed to be the first time in Premier League history that a side has fielded four 18-year-olds at the same time.
Saints were certainly the first to ever field three in a starting XI - when Shaw, Ward-Prowse and Chambers started at West Brom on the opening day of the this season.
For Pochettino to place such faith in youth was another remarkable chapter in Saints’ academy history.
And don’t forget that Saints also fielded a 21-year-old keeper against Manchester City, though with Artur Boruc and Kelvin Davis out injured Pochettino didn’t have much choice but to play Paulo Gazzaniga.
Lest we forget, the youngsters gave as good as they got - if not better - against one of the most expensively-assembled teams in football history.
In the City starting XI were Sergio Aguero (£38m), Fernandinho (£30m), James Milner (£26m), Samir Nasri (£24m), Yaya Toure (£24m), Alvaro Negredo (£20m) and Alexander Kolarov (£19m).
While Saints were bringing on young Reed, City were introducing – off their bench – Edin Dzeko (£27m), Javi Garcia (£16m) and Jesus Navas (£15m).
The fact Saints, whose oldest player was 28-year-old Jose Fonte, were able to have more of the ball than their higher-profile counterparts is a fantastic feat worthy of huge applause.
Indeeed, even though Saints have had some great results this season, Saturday’s - given the circumstances - was probably the best of the lot.
l Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany hailed Saints’ peformance at the weekend.
Kompany admitted injury-struck Saints played like a “top side” in fully deserving their 1-1 draw.
“We started really well,” Kompany said. “Afterwards Southampton were in the game and were actually in control of the game.
“In the end it was hard-fought for and I think any team could have in the end.
“We will look at this and think that we did not get beaten. It was a tough game so wasn’t a bad result.
“It is a very good Southampton team and many teams will lose points here.
“It did feel like a top game, it did feel like we were playing a top side.”
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