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Who Is The Latest Youngster On The Saints Bench ?
Monday, 24th Dec 2018 09:10

There was yet another surprise on the Saints bench at the weekend, Kayne Ramsay became the latest youngster to force his way into the first team squad, but who is he.

Kayne Ramsay became the latest unknown name to hit the first team squad following in the footsteps of Michael Obafemi, Yan Valery & Tyreke Johnson, all of whom have forced their way into the first team reckoning in recent weeks.

Ramsay was the youngest of the pack having only turned 18 in September and the it will not be too long now before a player plays in the first team who was not born when Saints left the Dell the 18th anniversary of which will happen at the end of this season.

Again like Johnson a week ago, few would know Ramsay's name when it appeared on the team sheet, indeed he still only appears on under the club's U18 roster on the website.

Ramsay has only been at the club a little over a year, he was previously in Chelsea's youth set up for the 2017/18 season and then signing a professional contract with Saints on turning 18 3 months ago.

Ramsay is a defender usually playing at right back, although sadly for him Ralph Hasenhuttl had to go with more experienced players off the bench to see out the game at Huddersfield so there was no chance of a little cameo at the end of the game as was the case last weekend for Tyreke Johnson.

Many Saints supporters will hail the appearance of these four players as a sign that the club's youth academy is far from dead, but this is not the full story.

With all four being aged between 18-20 you would have thought that they would have been at St Mary's for the last decade, but all have joined since 2016 and had previously been on the books of other club's.

Saints problem is that 10 years ago they were a club heading towards administration, in the summer of 2009 they were not only struggling to attract youngsters but actually sign them with at one stage it likely that the club might go bust.

This left a big void in the youth development programme, we of course still had the likes of James Ward Prowse and Luke Shaw on the books and they showed that the academy was in good shape prior to the Liebherr takeover, but we are now hitting that period where we were having to revamp our academy.

We will now start to see how good the academy was in the period 2009-2012.

But so far it appears that those coming through have been bought in rather than scouted at an early age, we have had to plug the gaps from 2009-10 by looking at the 15-16 year olds who have been at other clubs.

This is becoming more prevalent in football, the Black Box system extends beyond looking at those who have reached regular football as a professional and stretches down to the youth set ups across not just England but Europe and beyond, indeed Yan Valery was signed from Rennes in his native France.

Hopefully going forward we will once again start to show that we can sign players at an early age and develop them to the first team, in the meantime the emergence of thrse four players shows that we didn't sit back and accept the situation when we were unable to sign those kids we wanted a decade ago, but we looked at an alternative strategy.

It is easy to pick on Les Reed and undoubtedly he lost focus when it came to the first team managerial situation and ultimately he had to pay the price, but we should not forget the work he did in rebuilding the club after Markus Liebherr saved it.

Photo: Action Images

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Saint60 added 10:00 - Dec 24
Interesting piece on the introduction of the Academy Players. Will RH look closely at the players out on loan e.g. Hesketh, Reed, Sims et al, or has their opportunity at Saints gone ? Are they not good enough, or have the previous four managers not been prepared to spend time on their development and gone for the short term expensive option of bringing in players from abroad, which in many cases has been a failure ?

SirEglamore added 12:12 - Dec 24
What has happened to Sam Gallagher? I saw him play against Brighton in the Caraboa Cup and he looked good when he came on and should have scored.

benalisbroom added 14:33 - Dec 24
Good point Saint60. I think that if Jan Bednarek can be left languishing in the reserves then it’s infinitely possible that other gems have been ignored- look at the feedback from Blackburn fans on Harrison Reed...

Cjay80 added 17:15 - Dec 24
SirEglamore, Sam is injured at the moment I believe

SaintNick added 08:50 - Dec 25
I think that the club will look to clear out Harrison Reed, playing well at Blackburn in the Championship doesn't mean that he will make it in the Premier League, in truth he is up against too many quality players in the centre of midfield and would be around 6th choice here, so time for him to move on.

Managers don't overlook youngsters who are good enough, they pick players who can do a job, Sims is still young enough tobreak through but he seems to be going backwards at Reading

underweststand added 10:04 - Dec 25
Good article Nick. I've followed all levels of Saints football for over 5 decades and whilst it's true to say that many youngsters don't make it past the Youth stage, there have been those who have made it "big time"... even if we didn't always use the word "Academy" in previous generations.

The present U18 squad is an interesting mix, of local lads who've been with the club since the Under 8 stage ...(plus the likes of Ramsay and Obafemi) who were released by London clubs who "didn't think they'd make it" ...and the remainder who are a blend of "foreign imports" from France, Norway, Switzerland .. and Ireland.
Even at this early stage a number of them have already been granted and look to be good prospects for the future.

At the risk of bringing an "unpopular names" into the discussion I recall Les Reed's comments in the 2016 "Southampton Way " documentary when he said that we often pick up lads from other clubs who consider that they are " too small " for the professional game, and even the scout who spotted Gareth Bale said Saints were considering letting Bale leave our Academy when he was still a skinny 5' 7" at the age of 15. (!)
Many boys (Reed said) were "late developers" and if we saw the potential in them, then we would persevere with their development.
Adding another "unpopular" name to the pot, I might quote Rupert Lowe who once said; the only thing that was important (from youngsters)... was that they were "athletic and smart enough to take instructions" - the rest (he said) .. we could teach.

Although every new intake doesn't produce another Bale or Walcott, and there aren't so many who end up making a Prem. debut, we can be proud of the fact that - at last count - I reckoned more than 30 ex-Academy players in the last 10 years who have made good careers in football, albeit at a lower level.

One fact is undeniable in that very few Prem. clubs come close to matching Saints for the number of young players who make it to the highest level, and many have a tough time fielding a side with British players. The worst thing is when you release one who comes to bite you in the a**, at a later stage. After a set-to with the manager of the day ..Man. Utd. sold the arrogant 18 year old for a few millions, only to have later buy back PAUL POGBA for £90 million - just a few years afterwards.... and Chelsea's record is worse.

Hopefully we never have to face that situation - but you never know. For all his success and praise during his time - Lawrie McMenemy released two teenagers named; Kevin Phillips and Dennis Wise and they didn't do too badly in their careers, and thankfully it didn't cost an arm and a leg when they did finally come back to play for us.


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