Saints legend Francis Benali insists young left back Matt Targett can replace fellow teen Luke Shaw in the Saints first team in 2014/15.
Targett will get a chance to make the left back slot his own following Shaw’s £27m move to Manchester United last month.
The 18-year-old played in both of Saints’ friendlies in Holland and Belgium last week, and is again expected to feature at League 1 club Swindon Town tonight (7.45pm).
Benali was himself a left back during his playing days and made almost 400 appearances there for Saints from 1988 to 2003.
Ronald Koeman is currently without a senior left back, but Nathaniel Clyne and Calum Chambers could both play there even if the manager does not want to sign a replacement for Shaw.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for someone like Matty to come in and stake his claim,” said Benali.
“Someone like him will know it’s time for him to step up to the first team.
“It’s a huge opportunity for any player coming through and to the guys that are already in the first team to show the manager what they can do.”
It was a breakthrough campaign for Targett last term, making the bench in both the Premier League and the League Cup.
He made his first senior appearance in the 4-0 pre season friendly win against Dutch side EHC Hoensbroek last Tuesday and started his first game against Belgian side Sporting Hasselt two days later.
There could opportunities for other Saints youngsters too, with Harrison Reed, Sam McQueen, Jake Sinclair, Jake Flannigan, Jack Stephens, Jason McCarthy, Lloyd Isgrove and Jordan Turnbull all making appearances during the pre season tour.
They will all be aiming to join fellow academy graduates James Ward-Prowse, Sam Gallagher and Chambers – the latter two being Targett’s England U19 colleagues – as first team players as Koeman prepares his squad for the new season. Benali said: “I certainly hope that we can keep bringing through players that have an affinity with Southampton.
“With the players that have moved on in the summer, it’s an opportunity for those players to come through.
“The quality that the club have brought through in recent years is great.
“The current crop of players have got a great opportunity to establish themselves at the highest level, and at their home club, next term.”