LUKE Shaw is set for his toughest test yet in professional football as he comes up against former Saints youth colleague Alex Chamberlain.
The two teenagers will go head-to-head as Arsenal travel to St Mary’s for the New Year’s Day fixture this evening.
There is added spice to the fixture with the Gunners heavily linked with a January bid for 17-year-old Shaw.
It has been reported today that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will use today's Permier League clash at St Mary's to sound out Saints over a possible bid for the teen star.
It comes after Wenger has already raided the Saints academy twice in recent years for Theo Walcott and then Chamberlain.
And Wenger yesterday was happy to talk up the Saints academy for the great job they have done in the past decade in producing international standard players.
“They have done a fabulous job - you also look at Gareth Bale and what he is doing now at Tottenham,” said the Frenchman. “It is down to the quality of their scouting, the quality of their coaching and education.”
Shaw has acquitted himself superbly since breaking into the Saints side in early November.
His form has also seen him repeatedly linked with Chelsea who, co-incidentally, are also at St Mary’s this week – in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie.
The Daily Echo recently revealed that Shaw is unlikely to be offered a long-term contract extension – and with it a more lucrative salary – until he reaches his 18th birthday, which is not until next July.
Adkins has warned clubs looking to lure away Luke Shaw or any of his other players this month.
Saints have improved greatly of late, having lost just two of their previous nine Barclays Premier League fixtures heading into today's match with Arsenal.
The north Londoners have taken Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott from the south coast club in recent years and have been linked with a move for 17-year-old academy graduate Shaw.
Manchester City and Chelsea have also reportedly shown interest in the left-back, although Adkins does not expect him to be going anywhere.
"I've not read any of the newspapers," the Saints boss said.
"I think Luke gets linked every week with Arsenal, doesn't he?
"Luke is under contract, he is playing football for us in the Premier League, which is important.
"We are not looking to let him go anywhere if anyone wants to come in for any of our players, by all means speak to the chairman. He does the deals and all the best with that."
Adkins gave a similar response when asked about Rickie Lambert's future following speculation of a January move away from St Mary's.
The Saints boss was, though, less forthcoming when asked of players arriving at St Mary's, following links to Cagliari's Davide Astori and Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Adkins was, understandably, more concerned about this evening's encounter with Arsenal, which will see Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain return to the club.
"I think he will get a fantastic reception," the Saints boss said.
"He is one of the players that came through out system.
"We are excited watching him play. We'd love him to still be at Southampton, but he is an Arsenal player now and an England international.
"I went to watch him against Reading the other night and he was exhilarating, with his acceleration to go away, a desire to get on the football. He is a joy to watch.
"I think everybody at Southampton is proud of what he is doing now.
"Everybody at the football club has had a role and a responsibility to play in Alex's development, but it is down to him as well. He is an exciting young talent."