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O'Neill hails Saints academy
12:25pm Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Football
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is hoping to benefit from Southampton's famed production line after calling up former Saints midfielder Ben Reeves.
The likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw have helped the south-coast club develop a reputation as one of the English game's finest talent schools, and Reeves started his career at St Mary's.
The 22-year-old left for MK Dons in the summer after a handful of first-team appearances, but has quickly settled with 10 goals in 31 matches this season.
That form has earned him a place in the Northern Ireland squad that faces Cyprus in a friendly on March 5, and O'Neill is pleased to have him on board.
"Ben is a player I've known was eligible, through his grandmother, for about 12 months or so, since he was at Southampton," he told Press Association Sport.
"He struggled to make the breakthrough there into the big time, but they are such a good grounding for youngsters and their academy is recognised for the quality players it is producing.
"Ben is rebuilding at MK Dons now, playing well and scoring goals from midfield.
"I've been monitoring him closely for three or four months and he's had some really good games in that time. I went to meet him personally and he's decided to throw his hat in with Northern Ireland, which is good news."