Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse believes the club can target a European place this season and believes academy graduates like Gareth Bale would not have left the south-coast if they were still part of the team today.
The Saints are renowned for producing youngsters they bring through the ranks with the likes of Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw breaking through into the first team.
The club also brought through the likes of Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain through the academy before their big-money moves to Tottenham and Arsenal respectively.
Southampton were on the cusp of administration before they had to off-load several stars.
“We see the pathway that the chairman has put in place for us, and we know there is a chance for us to play in the first team – it is up to us to go and grab the opportunity,” said the 18-year-old.
Back-to-back promotions from League One and ending an eight-year absence in the top flight by finishing 14th, the youngster believes the club is going in the right direction.
“I don’t think it is beyond the realm of possibility to go into Europe. I think we are capable of doing that. We show towards the end of last season that we have got the quality and desire to get there,” he said.
The Saints are still hoping to bring in a high-profile striker to go alongside the already signed Lyon centre-back Dejan Lovren and Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama, and the England under 20 star is relishing the competition.
“I love the challenge. There is nothing to say why I can’t go out there this year and try to keep my place in the squad and get in the starting line-up.”
Meanwhile, youngster Calum Chambers yesterday dedicated his future to the club by penning a new four year contact despite overtures from Chelsea. Shaw is another who signed a new contract, keeping the left-back on the south-coast for a further five years – Manchester United were speculated to be after his signature.
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