A PHRASE enshrined deep into Saints’ modus operandi is, ‘The Southampton Way’.

The likes of Mick Channon, Terry Paine, Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier and Franny Benali were the notable names of the not so distant past to progress through the youth ranks.

More recently, The Southampton Way can be attributed to household names such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.

James Ward-Prowse is currently the player that is held up as the shining example of what Saints’ academy can produce.

However, the pathway from the youth teams to the senior side became somewhat distorted.

But one man, who arrived in December, is on a mission to change that.

“I know the Under-23s are doing very well,” explained Ralph Hasenhuttl.

“It’s important for the young players that they know we are looking at them.

“A lot of them are now a part of our training sessions and get the chance to show up and train with the first team professionals.

“I think this part helps because they have more motivation and it makes them work harder.

“They also know that it’s a tough way to come up because it doesn’t mean that if you are part of the first team once that you will stay there.

“You have to show in every training session that you deserve to be there.”

Despite his remit being to keep the club in the Premier League, Hasenhuttl hasn’t been afraid to delve into the Saints Under-23s to uncover any hidden gems.

Yan Valery and Michael Obafemi aside, Kayne Ramsay, Marcus Barnes, Callum Slattery and Tyreke Johnson have all been handed their first team debuts by the Austrian.

And although Hasenhuttl should take credit for this, the work of Radhi Jaidi can’t go unnoticed.

Under his management, the U23s have reached the semi-finals of the International Premier League Cup, where they will play Dinamo Zagreb at St Mary’s.

They are also second in the Premier League 2 Division Two standings, one point behind leaders Wolves, but three places ahead of Manchester United.

Jaidi’s side is also in the semi-finals of the Hampshire FA Senior Cup, which takes place at Basingstoke Town on Tuesday, 2 April [7.45pm].

It’s clear to see why Hasenhuttl is in regular dialogue with the former Saints defender when it comes to talking talent.

“Every time we have the chance to speak about young players, we do it. I need this feedback,” added Hasenhuttl.

“I need to have a good view in this team with one of my assistant coaches [Craig Fleming] who knows every player in the Under-23s.

“When they are coming up to us, he is the first manager who speaks to them and to take care of them.

“He works on their deficits, so he has a good relationship with them which helps me.

“At the moment, we are concentrating on our team because this situation takes every person of my team to work with the first team.

“But for the future, I have big plans for the academy.

“I want to bring a good philosophy to Southampton Football Club.”

This philosophy has already seen Valery establish himself as Saints’ first choice right-back.

Hasenhuttl shipped out Cedric Soares, who won the European Championship with Portugal in 2016, on loan to Inter Milan for the remainder of the season.

Due to this, Valery had no choice other than to make the step-up and learn to swim at the deep end with the threat of relegation looming over the side.

And the risk clearly paid off.

The Frenchman last week signed a new deal at Saints after an impressive string of performances that saw him score a stunner at Old Trafford and the equaliser against Tottenham.

Obafemi, who is out with a hamstring injury for the remainder of the season, has also been handed a new long-term contract, which again shows the Austrian's willingness to believe in youth.

And with the likes of Slattery, Ramsay, Barnes and Johnson already making the step-up, the future’s looking bright.

However, not content with the high number of players he’s already promoted, Hasenhuttl is already integrating another batch of Under-23s to train with the senior side.

Saints’ boss revealed: “At the moment we have [Jake] Vokins and [Kayne] Ramsay.

“We also have Alife Jones, who was on loan but is back now, and Josh Sims.

“We have Yan Valery and Matt Targett, who are also players coming up from the Under-23s.

“There still a few guys we have in our focus.

“There is still the chance for them to show up and if we make the decision then it doesn’t take long for them to get their chance to play.”

If Saints are able to maintain their Premier League status, it’s expected that a host of senior players will leave the club permanently in the summer.

This will present an opportunity for Jaidi’s Under-23s to impress Hasenhuttl when the Austrian doesn’t have to think about avoiding relegation.

And despite Saints' boss already creating a clear pathway for the youngsters to play in the first team, he admitted that he hasn't been able to watch them as frequently as he'd want.

“I haven't seen them as much as I’d like, but it's normal.

“We have all our schedules and our fixtures, so it’s not so easy.

“But if it’s possible, then I will do it.”