Saints Academy 2014-16
- DOB: 27th March 1996
- 2016-17 Squad Number: 42
- Twitter: @jakehesketh
A cultured midfielder, who has that knack of looking as though he has all the time in the world, but he has been desperately unlucky with injuries coming at crucial moments when it looked like he might be about to break through into the first team.
Jake joined Saints aged eight after being spotted at a local tournament and a subsequent summer coaching course.
A professional contract was duly signed in May 2014, on the same day he was named as Saints 2013/14 Scholar of the Season. This came after an impressive season appearing in both the Under-18s and Development Squad.
Hesketh made his first-team debut against Manchester United at St Mary's on 8th December 2014, coming on for Dušan Tadić late in the second half, before making his first start a week later away to Burnley.
Jake made 22 appearances for Martin Hunter's Under-21s in 2014/15, scoring twice. The attacking midfielder scored six goals in 24 appearances during 2015/16.
In the 2016/17 season injury again restricted his chances, but the club clearly believe in him, as he remains a part of the first team squad, rather than slipping back into the U23.
- DOB: 6th February 1995
- 2016-17 Squad Number: 38
- Twitter: @sammcqueen123
A cultured left back/midfielder, who has been with Saints since the age of 8
In 2014 he marked his return from a long term injury with a call into the first team squad for an FA Cup game at Sunderland in February 2014 where he replaced Adam Lallana for the final fifteen minutes of the tie.
McQueen enjoyed a succesful loan spell at Southend United during the 2015/16 season, with probably his most memorable moment being a goal in the Shrimpers' 3-0 win over Essex rivals Colchester United.
Sam appeared for Saints in his Premier League debut in October 2016, replacing the injured Matt Targett in a 3-1 win against Burnley at St Mary's.
Amazingly McQueen then had his first start for Saints against Italian side, Internazionale in the San Siro on the 20th October 2016 for a UEFA Europa League match.
During 2017 he found opportunities for first team action hard to come by, but undoubtably has a future at the club
- DOB: 27th January 1995
- 2016-17 Squad Number: 18
- Twitter: @harrisonreed
What can I say about Harrison Reed? Southampton’s answer to Paul Scholes? A pint sized bundle of aggression, each time he appears for Saints, I fear how long it will be before he gets a yellow card, such is the level of his commitment. He will learn to channel this and he will then have a good chance of becoming an important member of the first team.
Reed worked his way up Saints youth system, all the way to his first appearance for the first team in 2013.
Harrison’s tireless all-action performances in the Under-21 side saw him selected as one of three youngsters making their first team debuts against Barnsley in the Capital One Cup. His first start followed in the same competition, when Saints were away to Sunderland in the fourth round.
Reed then made his Premier League debut when he came on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City at St Mary's in December 2013 (Yes, the game where Dani Osvaldo scored that goal). The young midfielder then made his first Premier League start in the 3-0 win against Everton at the end of April 2014. He then went on to make ten first team appearances the following 2015/16 season.
At the time of writing he has made seven appearances in the 2016/17 season, but in spite of Claude Puel’s rotation policy, has found chances hard to come by.
- DOB: 28th March 1997
- 2016-17 Squad Number: 39
- Twitter: simsjosh12
A left winger/midfielder, Yeovil born Sims arrived from the Romsey based Elite Training Centre to Saints Academy at Staplewood.
He appeared on a few occasions for the Under-18s as a schoolboy in 2012/13, and had previously played in the Portsmouth Academy. He then made his debut for the Under 21s, playing a couple of games towards the start of the 2013/14 season.
His performances in 2013/14 led to international recognition, which saw him in the England team which won the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Sims featured regularly for both the Under-18s and Under-21s in 2014/15, making 15 starts for the youth team and 25 appearances for the development side.
A successful 2015/16 season, in which he made 22 appearances for the U23s and scored four goals, saw Sims sign a new deal with the club.
The following season saw a combination of injuries to first teamers lead to Claude Puell starting him as the third forward at home to Everton on the 27th November 2016. Josh grabbed his chance with both hands and I remember that he made a huge impression, the Everton defence just did not know how to cope with him. Such was the impact of this performance, that within a month he signed a new extended contract.
Another one for the future.
- DOB: 18th September 1995
- 2016-17 Squad Number: 33
- Twitter: @mattytargett
Another left back (what is it in the waters of Southampton that continues to produce excellent left backs?), he has been around the fringes of the first team for what seems ages, but is in fact still in his early twenties.
Known as a Southampton fan, who was born in Eastleigh, Matt Targett joined the academy at eight years old after being scouted at one of the Saints Foundation events.
Left back Targett graduated to the Under-21 squad in the early part of the 2012/13 Under-21 season and impressed enough to continue into 2013/14.
With Matt’s friend Luke Shaw, moving on to Manchester United, he was given his chance in the first team during pre-season by then manager Ronald Koeman.
Targett duly impressed, and in spite of the signing of Ryan Bertrand, was kept in the first team squad. Matt made his debut in the Capital One Cup win against Millwall in August 2014 (You know, the game where Pellè scored his first goal for Saints).
His Premier League debut came in the home game against QPR on the 27th September 2014. Over the remainder of that season he made twelve appearances.
Matt International career began when he captained England's under-20 side in a friendly against Turkey in October 2014 and scored for them against Portugal the following month. He was then appeared for the Under-21s in 2015 and went on to make his debut in the 1-0 win against the Czech Republic in Prague.
By now established in Saints first team squad, he has had few chances during the 2016/17 season, as he lost a large part of the season with a bad hamstring injury.
In an attempt to bring this section something approaching up to date, I have covered five players who have emerged/are emerging into the spotlight that is the first team.
Of the five, I suppose the one who made the most spectacular debut was Josh Sims, who was simply amazing in the home game against Everton earlier this year. That was doubly sweet as Everton now managed by Ronald Koeman, who was somewhat less than enthusiastic about Saints youngsters last season.
It is notoriously difficult to predict who will succeed, as there are so many factors to take into consideration. Some players take to first team football like a duck to water, others take much longer to develop (JWP anyone?), while some never make it and have to move on to find their level.
If you were to ask me now, I would say that McQueen has impressed me the most - I mean, how many players can say that they made their first team debut at the San Siro against Internazionale? - and on the other side of the coin, I just feel that Harrison Reed will have the most competition to get his breakthrough. Jake Hesketh is a player that I like, with bags of talent, but I wonder whether he is physically, or mentally strong enough at the moment, but he is in the right place to develop.
channonite - 23rd March 2017