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Poch: Shaw ready for England debut
There is no danger of Luke Shaw being overawed if he is handed his England debut next week, according to Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Teenage ace Shaw was this week called up to the senior national team for the first time, and is in line to make his bow on Wednesday, when Denmark visit Wembley.
An impressive performance from the left-back would further enhance his chances of making it to this summer’s World Cup, and, rather than being daunted, Pochettino expects him to take the whole experience in his stride.
“I think he’s fully prepared mentally to face the situation,” said the Saints manager.
“I think he’s a player that’s grown a lot in the year-and-a-bit that we’ve been here.
“He’s matured a lot, he’s grown a lot in that time, and I think it’s going to be a very positive experience for him.
“I think it’s going to help him grow as well in the future, this chance with the English national side, and it’s a great chance also that he’s going to be playing with the best that this country has to offer and he’s also going to be managed under a great manager such as Roy Hodgson, so, overall, it’s going to be a massive positive thing for him.”
Shaw’s England call-up has seen his stock soar even further, and it is no secret that the biggest clubs in the country are all keen to lure him from St Mary’s.
But Pochettino says that Saints’ stance in relation to the 18-year-old’s situation is clear.
“We want to keep hold of our young players, such as Luke Shaw, and that’s our intention for the future,” he said.
Pochettino said it was “getting ahead of ourselves” to talk too much about the summer, but added that he would “completely agree” with the notion that Saints’ prospects of keeping hold of such players are enhanced by the amount of international recognition the club’s stars are now receiving.
The Argentine is also not worried about other players trying to persuade Shaw to join their team while he is away on international duty.
“Not at all. I think he’s a player that has great maturity, he has great intelligence,” he said.
“He has the full support of his family behind him, and he also has the full support of the Southampton family, and, if anything should happen and he comes back in a different way, his family’s right behind him to make sure that there’s no consequences.”
One thing Pochettino is wary of, however, is the potential for Shaw, as well as Saints’ other fledgling international stars, to be left burnt out by their exertions with their country.
“It’s clear that these players have an extra motivation now to be playing for their clubs, because some of them can actually be going to the World Cup and that’s a massive thing for them, and for Southampton as well,” he said.
“But it’s also clear that getting an England call-up has its positives and its negatives, in the sense that it demands more from you physically and mentally as well.
“So that can create a stress on the player, and it’s down to the technical staff at Southampton to try to balance that stress out and to find an equilibrium between all the excitement of being called-up to the English national side and keeping your feet on the ground.
“That’s actually a very important topic for us, in the sense that when you see big clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, or Manchester City, they have players that are already used to playing with their national side.
“You can almost see that those players take it as almost like a psychological and physical resting period.
“For us, players such as Luke Shaw, that gets called up for the first time, that can demand a lot more energy from him physically and mentally.
“Over time you find that equilibrium.
“It’s clear that players that have been called up many times for the English national side, or for any national side, are a lot more accustomed to that demand, whereas our players are only recent call-ups to the English national side, so they need to balance out that stress that’s involved with going to the national side.”
Pochettino, who was an international defender of some repute during his own playing days, said he and his staff would offer Shaw any advice he needed ahead of his link-up with England.
However, he explained that is no different to how they work with the players on any given day.
“It’s clear that I played in the Argentina national side a long time ago, but it’s not just today that we speak with Luke Shaw,” he said.
“We speak with all players every day, especially about any potential situations that they might be facing, not just with the English national side.
“The technical staff tries to pass on their experience, especially to young players such as Luke Shaw.
“We try to pass on that experience every day, and it’s clear that Luke Shaw is experiencing a new experience – a new moment for him – and it’s also clear that there’s already three players at Southampton that have been with the English national side that can pass on their own experience, so that will make him feel like he’s already part of that set-up and it’s not anything new for him.”
Pochettino says that Shaw will be a good addition to the England left-back ranks, alongside Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole.
“It’s clear that Luke Shaw is younger than the two players that you mention, and that youth transmits good energy to the team,” he said.
“That’s a very good, positive thing for the team.
“It’s a player that is well known, we all know of his quality and it’s clear that if Roy Hodgson has picked him it’s because he feels that he can do well with the English national side, and that he can also complement well Baines and Ashley Cole in that position.
“Overall, it’s a positive thing for him and for the English national side.”
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