YOUNGSTER Harrison Reed has revealed that Claude Puel has focused a lot of time on Saints’ academy stars and that the trust he’s prepared to put in the club’s youth is “brilliant”.

It is a recognisable change from the Ronald Koeman era – during which the now Everton manager stated that he “wasn’t impressed” by what Saints’ famed academy, which has produced the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Luke Shaw, had to offer. 

Former boss Koeman believed that many of the young players weren’t close to the required standard.

Reed, one of the latest products of the Staplewood youth programme, described how Puel has already put time and effort into nurturing the club’s youngsters, revealing that he’s learning a lot.

The French boss has given the midfielder some advice, as he looks to make it a breakthrough campaign at Saints after being on the fringes of the first team since 2013.

“It’s massive and great that he’s willing to give everyone a chance,” Reed said. “It gives us a chance to show him what we can do.

“It’s important for us youngsters to put the work we’ve done on the training ground into practice on the pitch.”

“I speak to the manager after every under-23s game,” he continued. “One thing that came out after the last game was that he wanted me to be more disciplined, and preserve my energy more so I can be more aggressive and win the ball back, rather than making long runs forward.

“That’s something I look to add to my game.”

The 21-year-old was one of four academy stars to start in the 2-0 League Cup third-round victory over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.

Two of those – James Ward-Prowse and Matt Targett – have been regulars for Saints, but for the other pair, Reed and Jake Hesketh, it was a big chance to impress, which they subsequently did with excellent performances, including a goal for Hesketh.

“The young players train with the first team – that’s a great opportunity,” he said. “That’s one thing, but also to get the opportunity in the games takes a lot of trust from the manager.

“For the manager to put that trust in us young players, who he sees every day, to go out and win the games is brilliant for us.”

Although Reed doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, he hopes this will be breakthrough season at St Mary’s for him.

He said: “I’ve set my sights quite high. It’s down to me to show the manager what I can do when I get the chance.

“I’m just looking to taking every opportunity that comes my way as well as working hard in training and to keep speaking to the manager and keep learning from him.”

The Worthing-born man hailed his academy team-mate Hesketh after his superb Palace performance.

“We can see everyday what he can do, his ability on the ball to create chances and score goals,” he said. “If you watch him in the under-23s, he does it week in week out and for him to do it tonight was great.”

“He’s a really top player,” he added. “If you can get him on the ball he causes lots of problems. You saw a player of Yohan Cabaye’s quality couldn’t get anywhere near him.

“It’s up to him to push on and reach whatever level he can, but at the moment he’s doing really well.”