Grabbing the headlines

Luke Shaw, who does not turn 19 until July 12, has already made 54 first-team appearances for Southampton, attracting admiring glances from Chelsea and Manchester United.

It seems Southampton have a production line of talent emerging from their academy and while the most high-profile players to come through the system will not be at the World Cup this summer, others could be poised to fly the flag for the club.

Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott are the best known graduates of an academy which is the envy of the rest of English football but neither will showcase their talent in Brazil — due to Wales’ failure to qualify, in Bale’s case, and a long-term injury for the latter.

Adam Lallana could well be on the plane to South America after an impressive campaign for Saints, though, and the latest to emerge as a World Cup contender is Luke Shaw.

England manager Roy Hodgson has suggested the teenager is in line for a late call-up to his squad for the World Cup — a platform on which Southampton assistant manager Jesus Perez believes the left-back would shine.

Shaw, who does not turn 19 until July 12, has already made 54 first-team appearances, attracting admiring glances from Chelsea and Manchester United.

Those performances have also caught the eye of Hodgson, who has indicated the England Under-21s international could feature in the senior team’s friendly with Denmark on March 5 and soon be on the plane to Brazil.

The England boss has spoken privately with Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino about the development of Shaw and the club’s other England players, with Perez confident in the teenager’s ability to step up to the national team.

“We don’t know what Hodgson is thinking about in terms of the squad,” said the Spaniard, who saw Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez called up for England’s last batch of games.

“We know he has followed our team often — he is at St. Mary’s or when we play away — so he knows our players perfectly. It is going to be great news if some of our players will go to Brazil, but the most important thing is now: let the players play and be relaxed. They are getting all they deserve. Luke Shaw is a quiet player with great quality and just with his job and his performances I think he will deserve everything. I don’t know if it will be now or not, but his future is massive.”

While Hodgson name-checked Saints’ existing senior internationals, as well as England age-group players James Ward-Prowse, Nathaniel Clyne, Calum Chambers and Jack Cork, it is Shaw’s name that is grabbing the headlines.

The left-back has been constantly linked with a move away from St. Mary’s and could soon have to deal with the additional pressure of being a senior England international.

Perez, though, is confident Shaw can cope with the spotlight, despite his tender years.

“Luke Shaw shows every day that he is a normal person, with great quality,” the assistant said. “This is the best skill to be a top player. Obviously he needs time to improve, but he has no worries about the media talking about him or his chances to go to Brazil. His behaviour is normal daily. He just trains, enjoys it, talks with the lads the same age, so he is a normal player. This is the best way to improve and to achieve everything you want to achieve.”

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