Belfast Telegraph

Pochettino hails young Saints

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino expressed his confidence in Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse after the trio of 18-year-olds helped Saints to a 1-0 victory at West Brom on Saturday.

All three of the England youth internationals made notable contributions to Southampton's Barclays Premier League opening-day triumph having been named in the first XI, with defender Shaw earning the penalty, via a challenge by Youssouf Mulumbu, from which Rickie Lambert scored the winning goal in the 90th minute.

And asked about Shaw, his fellow full-back Chambers - who was making his first senior start - and midfielder Ward-Prowse, Pochettino said: "All I can say is that I am confident that they are good enough players to play in this league.

"I am only taking advantage of the work that has been in place already at Southampton for the last four years - the amazing work that (executive chairman) Nicola Cortese has done in that sense, in bringing young players through the academy system."

Two other players who made a positive impression within the Southampton side were the pair of new signings Pochettino made over the summer, defender Dejan Lovren and midfielder Victor Wanyama.

Pochettino believes those additions have enhanced his team's competitive edge, and he has indicated there could be further new arrivals before the end of the transfer window.

The Argentinian said: "I think that is exactly what the new signings have come in for - to improve the team where I thought it needed improving in our defence and the midfield.

"As opposed to last season, we are a much more competitive team now with these two new signings.

"We are still looking in these last two weeks of the transfer window, and we'll see what happens."

It was a more frustrating afternoon for West Brom's summer recruit Nicolas Anelka, the 34-year-old former France striker who is now at his sixth Premier League club.

Anelka netted seven goals for Albion in pre-season, but rarely looked like scoring against Southampton and came off in one of two late substitutions made by Baggies boss Steve Clarke, which also saw the introduction of their other new frontman Matej Vydra.

The midlands outfit, this term without their 17-goal top-scorer from last season Romelu Lukaku following the end of his loan spell and return to Chelsea, had difficulty getting going in the contest and were second-best for much of it.

Asked if he thought his side would struggle for goals during this campaign, though, Clarke said: "No, I don't think we will.

"I thought Southampton defended well.

"We created two or three really good opportunities in the second half.

"(Southampton goalkeeper) Artur Boruc made an unbelievable save at the end (to keep out a Billy Jones header).

"Also (Albion midfielder) James Morrison looked as if he was going to score and the defender (Chambers) managed to block it on the six-yard line.

"We will create chances - but this time it wasn't our day.

"I think every manager would sit here and say they want to strengthen.

"But I think we showed enough to show we're going to be competitive again in the Premier League.

"The big decision went against us and that's a little bit disappointing - and obviously sore to take."

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