Southampton's philosophy for the nurturing and development of bright young talent was in full view again this afternoon as the club named seven academy prospects in it's matchday squad to face Everton, with Harrison Reed joining James Ward-Prowse in the starting line up.
However, it was the diminutive midfielder - making his full Premier League debut - that put in a superb display alongside his fellow youth team-mate and Steven Davis in the Saints midfield.
Reed was man-of-the-match in place of the suspended Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama and their absence was hardly noticed due to the performance of the replacement.
Reed started in midfield and was tasked with breaking up the play in front of his back three, and he did a fantastic job in that role. He seemed to cover every blade of grass in an energetic display that saw him make 15 tackles and two interceptions.
The display will also give manager Ronald Koeman a selection headache for the trip to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day after Reed's superb performance with Schneiderlin and Wanyama returning.
Academy producing again
In the final period, Ward-Prowse and Reed were joined by two more academy products in Matt Targett and Dominic Gape. Although Targett has been used in the Capital One Cup this season he has not seen much action in the Premier League.
Gape came on to make his Premier League debut alongside two of his youth teammates in what was a special day on the South coast.
Youthful substitutes bench
Also on the Southampton substitutes' bench against Everton this weekend were Sam McQueen, Ryan Seager and Jason McCarthy. All four of the youngsters have come up through the club's academy and show how the hard-work on the South coast continues to pay off.
With a crucial 3-0 win ending their run of poor form and the academy pushing more of it's graduates through to the first-team, it makes for a promising time ahead for the Southampton faithful.
They will be in fifth place in the Premier League at Christmas and with a potential top-six finish on the horizon and a team brimming with academy prospects, it is definitely one of the most exciting periods in the club's recent history.
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