4 Academy Players That Can Break into the Southampton First Team
With the preseason underway for Premier League teams, fans will get the chance to see players who aren't a part of the usual first 11 take the pitch to try to impress their managers, or at least scouts of other teams who may be looking to strengthen their squads.
At Southampton, fans have had the opportunity to see new signings Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama face a couple of Spanish lower-league sides and German power Schalke. But the more intriguing viewing may be watching the latest crop of Saints academy graduates getting their shot with the first team.
Southampton is renowned for the talent its academy has produced over the years, from Steve Moran, Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier in older years, to Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gareth Bale more recently.
Last season, academy graduates James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw both were regulars on the Southampton team sheet. Despite the additions of Lovren and Wanyama, and every first-team regular from last year returning this season, expect a couple more academy graduates to force their way into the lineup.
Here is a look at four players from Southampton's academy that could force their way into the first team this season.
Calum Chambers, Midfielder/Defender
While it can be difficult to tell what a manager is thinking by analyzing the lineups he puts forward in preseason games, it appears Calum Chambers is getting every opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino.
Chambers has started each of Southampton's three preseason friendlies at right back ahead of last season's incumbent, Nathaniel Clyne. The 18-year-old played the first 64 minutes of the Saints' 2-0 defeat to Schalke in Austria on Wednesday.
The East Hampshire native made his first team competitive debut for Southampton last season in a Capital One Cup victory over Stevenage. Chambers has also featured in both the England Under-17 and Under-19 national teams.
Chambers has primarily been a midfielder, scoring two goals for the England Under-19s, but with Frazer Richardson's departure, Clyne has no true back-up at right-back on the roster.
Expect Chambers' name to pop up on the Saints team sheet with some regularity this season.
Jack Stephens, Defender
You could say that Jack Stephens is a bit of a "jack-of-all-trades."
While the 19-year-old has primarily been used as a center back, Stephens is capable of playing both outside back positions as well as defensive midfielder.
Stephens came to Southampton from Plymouth Argyle, where the then 16-year-old made six appearances with the Pilgrims' first team during the 2010-11 season.
At Southampton, the Cornwall native made his Saints debut in January of 2012 in an FA Cup match against Coventry City. Stephens has also made appearances for the England U-18 and U-19 squads.
At center back, Stephens will have his work cut out for him to find his way into a rotation that already features Dejan Lovren, Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld. But the 19-year-old will likely get some games in cup competitions this season to show his skills.
Jordan Turnbull, Defender
Stephens isn't the only intriguing center back prospect coming up from the Southampton academy. Jordan Turnbull was also included by Mauricio Pochettino in the travel squad for Saints' preseason tour.
While Turnbull has yet to break into the Southampton first team, the 18-year-old was a regular on the Saints U-21 team last season, as well as making two apperances for the England U-19 team.
With the current depth at center-back, Turnbull will likely see most of his game action at the U-21 level again. But don't rule out an appearance here and there in cup competitions.
Lloyd Isgrove, Midfielder
If there is one player on the Southampton squad who hopes that Mauricio Pochettino and chairman Nicola Cortese don't make any more transfer signings, it's Lloyd Isgrove.
Isgrove is a pacy winger who can also play centrally when called upon. The 20-year-old made his Southampton first-team competitive debut against Leeds United in last season's Capital One Cup.
Isgrove also made his debut for the Welsh U-21 squad last January.
The right wing position has been the one position for the Saints that has seemingly been up-for-grabs since Pochettino took over in January, so Isgrove has every opportunity to make the position his own.