HARRY REDKNAPP will dismiss calls to base Saints' Premiership push around the club's promising crop of youngsters.

The manager insists the Championship is a 'man's league' and that he needs a core of seasoned professionals to help lift the team back into the top flight.

Redknapp masterminded Portsmouth's rise to the Premiership in 2002/3 while new assistant Dave Bassett has previously inspired promotions from the equivalent division for Wimbledon, Sheffield United, Leicester and Nottingham Forest.

Both know the Champion-ship is a physical league.

"The kids can go in the reserves if they are good enough and they can go in the first team if they are good enough," said Redknapp.

"But a load of kids are not going to get you out of this division, that's for sure.

"This is a man's league. I got out of it at Portsmouth with proper players.

"You might throw one in, but they've got to be good enough. If they are good enough they will play. If they are 16 and good enough, they will play in the team."

Bassett added: "The teams you play against are very fit, work hard and don't put so much emphasis on playing out from the back.

"They are more direct and are about putting pressure on you and working hard."

Saints reached the final of the FA Youth Cup last season and won the under-18 league. The reserves also fared well with a predominantly young team.

The likes of Dexter Blackstock, Leon Best, Theo Walcott, Matthew Mills, David McGoldrick, Andrew Surman and Martin Cranie are among those already being talked about as potential first-teamers over the next year or two.

But Redknapp, was has managed in all the top three divisions during a career spanning more than 20 years, knows there is a big jump to playing regularly in the Premiership or the Championship.

He added: "There's not a dozen kids here who will walk into the first team - they are not ready to play in the first team.

"If you get two kids out of that team, you have done a miracle. We won the Youth Cup final 9-0 at West Ham and got two players out of it.

"If you get two out of that play at the top level then you have done well. A load of them make a living, but if you're talking about a bigger club, if you get two it will be a bonus."

Redknapp sent much of Saints' best talent on loan to Championship clubs last season and said: "Some of the kids went out on loan and did okay and some found it hard."