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Calum Chambers has a bright future, says Southampton striker Rickie Lambert
Teenage Saints star Calum Chambers has announced his arrival as the latest exciting product from the club’s academy, with Rickie Lambert backing the youngster to have a wonderful future in the game.
Eighteen-year-old Chambers produced an eye-catching and thoroughly composed performance on his Premier League debut, as he was handed a start in last Saturday’s 1-0 win at West Brom.
Having played just six minutes of first-team football before that stage, in a League Cup tie at Stevenage a year ago, the right-back could have been forgiven for suffering a nervy introduction.
But there was barely a hint of unease, as Chambers rose to the occasion with an assured display in place of Nathaniel Clyne, who had not recovered sufficiently from injury to play.
The Petersfield-born player, who has been with Saints since the age of seven, has drawn praise from his teammates following the opening match of the season.
l Continued on page 44 l From back page Lambert said: “It didn’t look like it fazed him one little bit. First game of the season in the Premier League, and it was his (league) debut. Full credit to the lad. He’s another young lad coming through who looks like he has got an absolutely superb future.”
For Saints, it has been a magnificent summer in terms of their transfer dealings, with Italian international Dani Osvaldo the latest arrival, joining fellow big-money acquisitions Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren at the club.
But, arguably as impressive as those signings, is the number of players who Saints have nurtured through their own system into the current first-team.
As well as Chambers, fellow 18-year-olds James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw both also started at the Hawthorns.
Saints captain Adam Lallana, himself a shining example of the club’s youth system, is encouraged to see players of such calibre continuing to emerge from the academy.
He said: “I thought he [Chambers] did very well, him and Ward-Prowse down the right. It was a very mature performance from both of them and it just proves again that Saints keep producing this young talent and it’s credit to them – a great performance. “But it’s a long season and they’ll keep their feet on the ground and just work hard, because we’ve got a tough game next week (at home to Sunderland).”
Chambers was well prepared for his Premier League introduction, having been one of four youngsters – along with Jordan Turnbull, Lloyd Isgrove and Jack Stephens – promoted onto the first-team’s pre-season tour, and starting all six of the summer friendlies at right-back, while Clyne was struggling.
Lambert spoke of how impressed he was at the way England Under-19 international Chambers, who signed a new four-year deal last month, handled himself. “He did well,” he said. “He was away with us for 18 days and I was surprised how he handled it. It’s hard for anyone to be away for 18 days, but for a young lad it must be very hard, and he’s done terrific. He made a good impression on all the lads and, obviously, the manager.”
Lambert believes the decision to take a number of young players on the club’s pre-season trips would also have had a positive effect on them.
“We [the senior players] just try and make them feel welcome, but they’ve got like their own little gang as well – there’s about six or seven of them all the same age,” he said. “They are all confident lads, they all believe in themselves, and obviously we all try and help them anyway, but like I say it didn’t look like it fazed him, so all credit to him.”
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