Following Danny Higginbotham's comments regarding Southampton providing the blueprint for the future of English football, it's interesting to know just exactly what those blueprints look like. 

Higginbotham's words come following the inclusion of three Southampton players in the England squad, which is the same number as Chelsea and one more than Arsenal or Manchester City. 

So why are Southampton producing so many good, young English prospects? What's the science or big secret behind it? 

It's relatively simple. The players are part of a very talented youth system and are then given opportunities to perform and prove their worth. 

If you look at the not so very recent past, players such as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Wayne Bridge have progressed through the youth set-up on the South Coast before going on to play for England.

In addition, Gareth Bale, Nathan Dyer, Andrew Surman and former Fulham defender Chris Baird have all risen up through the famous youth system.

All of the aforementioned players all share one thing in common other than playing at Southampton, and that's they actually played while at Southampton. 

The Saints have shown time and time again that they have been able to produce players of high-quality, regardless of what level of football they are playing in that period of time. 

Current Saints striker Rickie Lambert has been quick to praise the influence of chairman Nicola Cortese for his impact on how the club is run. 

Cortese himself was quoted by the Daily Telegraph saying: "We want to see a starting XI in the Premier League that is fed from our youth development."

Those are big words from a club that is currently enjoying just it's second season in the top flight since returning from exile. Many chairmen would fear taking on such a philosophy, perhaps dreading the thought of relegation resulting from a reliance on inexperienced youth. 

Not Southampton. They're showing just how it should be done. 

Rewind back to 2010 and the club were rooted in the depths of of the English pyramid system, squandering in League 1. The club had only had Lambert a season after his switch from Bristol Rovers. Similarly, Adam Lallana had only just come through the youth system. 

The duo weren't England contenders then, but, after consecutive years of hard work, the team now finds itself near the summit of the English pyramid system. 

Now, if you look at the squad on the south coast you can see it still has a very strong British core, with a few additional overseas players. It is this model, this blueprint, that other clubs now need to now take note of. 

In the summer, the Saints spent big on signing three players that added quality and depth to the side. More importantly, they shored up the defence which has been the foundation of their success this season. 

The majority of players are young and English with the potential to go on and achieve great things.

Several of them are already in the England youth set-up and are being linked with the first team. These are players such as Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers.

The most impressive, though, is Lallana who has risen from League One to now become a leading star in the Premier League. His strike against Hull was a reflection of just how far he has come - each player he beat represented a challenge that he's overcome. 

The imaginative midfielder is set to make his England debut against Chile tonight, which he hopes will be the start of bigger things to come. Giving the ageing midfield Roy Hodgson currently has at his disposal, it's becoming ever more likely that it will. 

Every one of these English talents is in and around the first team at Southampton, giving them the perfect opportunity to learn and progress on the biggest stage. 

With Barcelona being famously known for contributing much to the success of Spain given with their youth set-up and dense Spanish core, it is these blueprints that Cortese and Southampton are looking to replicate as they look to continue to provide the future of English football with dazzling stars.

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Topics:
#Football
#Premier League
#Southampton