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Should Saints reform reserve side to play Premier League second strings?
IT is a great debating issue.
Should Saints re-form their reserve set-up, which they disbanded two years ago, to play in the Premier Reserve League?
Or should they carry on playing friendlies against lower league clubs under the guise of an under-21 side, plus some over-age players?
It appears Saints are unlikely to accept the Premier League’s invitation to play in their second string competition next season.
That is a shame for the club’s youngsters such as James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw and Jake Sinclair.
They would miss out on competitive games against reserve sides from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
In 2011/12, Saints’ under-21 side played 19 friendlies.
A handful were against other Championship clubs, like Watford, West Ham, Birmingham, Cardiff and Reading.
Some were against League 1 and League 2 clubs like Exeter, Plymouth and Brentford.
Only once, against Tottenham – another club without a reserve side in a competitive league – did Saints play a current Premier League club.
It could be argued if the Premier Reserve League is good enough for Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, it should be good enough for Saints.
The competition is split into north and south sections, so there is no great travelling needed.
Tottenham pulled out of the league a few years ago because Harry Rednapp preferred to send his younger players out on loan to Football League clubs to gain experience, rather than play in a reserve league.
Spurs are entitled to do that, but it doesn’t mean their way is the correct way.
Sir Alex Ferguson also sends out lots of youngsters every season to gain Football League experience, but he still sees the value in the Premier League Reserve League.
It would make sense for Saints to resurrect their second string and enter the Premier League set-up.
They could still organise under-21 friendlies as and when they required.
It’s all about player development, of course.
No one can say with any degree of certainty that playing reserve league games is more beneficial than, say, Saints’ or Tottenham’s way.
But can anyone explain just how their way is the best way?
Your shout: Do you think Saints should reform their reserve side to play against other Premier League second strings?