Claude Puel admitted Jake Hesketh has given him plenty to think about after the 20-year-old scored his first ever Saints goal.

The academy graduate hadn’t played for the first team since December 2014 before being named in last night’s side to face Crystal Palace in the third round of the EFL Cup.

The attacking midfielder put in a fantastic performance in the 2-0 win, rounding it off with a well taken goal in the second period.

Puel has a wealth of options at the top of the diamond, with Dusan Tadic in good form and Sofiane Boufal edging nearer to fitness, but Hesketh is now well in the mix.

“I think with the quality that he show with under-23s it was not a problem for the start for me to give him a chance and to give him a solution for the team and the future,” said Puel.

“I know him and it’s a good performance for him, very good second goal, and I am happy for him. He takes his chance and I think he was in the same level like with the under-23s.

“It’s important now to make his performance now as a professional.

“I am happy also with the game of Harry Reed and perhaps all the time it would be as defence of the squad, the academy. It’s always important to improve and develop these young players.

“All these players give possibilities to give competition.”

Puel made eight changes from the team that defeated Swansea for the 2-0 victory over Palace as he continues to rotate his squad in a busy run of fixtures.

After three wins in a week he is a happy man.

“It was a very good performance for all the squad because all the players participate with these good results and it’s important to continue the work,” he admitted.

“It was a different game with a different team at the start.

“I think it was important to give possibilities for young players, and they take their chances with a very good performance.

“All this it is always interesting for the future and gives many possibilities and different solutions for the team.

“It’s a good performance with a good dynamic for the squad.”

Charlie Austin bagged the goal, making it four in the last three for the £4m striker.

“Without problem with the penalty because he was the one to shoot the penalty his time,” said Puel, referring jokingly to the debate between Austin and Tadic for the spot kick against Sparta Prague.

“It is a good thing for Charlie. He is confident at this moment and for the team possibilities to have a good result, but it is not just Charlie. All the players can do a very good game, and like Shane also with a very good game.

“I think the goalkeeper made two or three saves which were very important. Shane was unlucky but his performance is very interesting.”