When Roy Hodgson announced his 28-man squad for England’s upcoming international friendlies yesterday, the story which stole the headlines was that three Southampton players were included.
Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, and perhaps more surprisingly Jay Rodriguez, were all named in the group of players to face Chile (November 15) and Germany (November 19) at Wembley Stadium.
And there is a further argument that the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw could follow in the footsteps of their teammates over the coming years.
The last time Saints had three players in an England squad was back in 1986 when Peter Shilton, Danny Wallace and Mark Wright were all selected for a match against Egypt.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino expressed his delight at the news, telling BBC Sport: “I’m very proud for the three players who have been called up.
“They fully deserve their call-ups, have worked very hard and I’m also happy for the entire Southampton family. It is good news for the club.”
The announcement proves just how far Saints have come in recent years, bearing in mind that this was a club languishing in League One only three seasons ago.
Southampton’s youth system has always been incredibly strong, with the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all progressing through the ranks before transferring into the top flight.
Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain continue to ply their trade at Arsenal and – when fit – are, are regular fixtures in the England squad, while Bale has become a ‘Galactico’ at Real Madrid.
But now, under the close guidance of owner Nicola Cortese, the south coast club have the power and authority to keep their finest youth products at St Mary’s.
They reportedly rejected an offer in excess of £10m from Chelsea who attempted to lure Luke Shaw away from Hampshire.
And arguably, playing regular first team football at Southampton is exactly where these young English stars should be, rather than competing for a place at one of the Premier League’s bigger clubs.
If the likes of Lallana, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse, Clyne and Shaw continue to improve then we could be staring at England’s next ‘Golden Generation’.
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