SAINTS are cutting their cloth and preparing to field some of their younger players next season.

They will follow in the footsteps of Saints' glorious academy past.

The likes of Steve Moran, Matt Le Tissier, Alan Shearer and the three Wallace brothers came through the ranks before the modern development of academies around the country.

Saints ensured they were well placed to take advantage and ploughed money in - over £1m a year during Rupert Lowe's first spell in charge - to bring through the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Andrew Surman.

The sale of academy players have helped keep Saints going over the years.

Who knows what financial problems Saints could be having if they hadn't received over £10m for Bale and Walcott?

The plan now is to pump more cash into the academy set-up and link it even more strongly with the first team to provide players and potentially decent revenue streams in the future.

Here we take a look at a few of those youngsters from Stewart Henderson's reserve team that could find themselves in the first team squad next season.


Michael Poke
In Kelvin Davis and Bartosz Bialkowski, Saints do have two formidable keepers to get past.

But as has been proven this season injuries can open up opportunities and Poke, still young for a keeper at 22, was able to briefly take advantage of that himself.

A good communicator and all round keeper, he has been with the club since he was ten and showed enough in his four appearances this season to suggest he will be able to cut it at Championship level in the future.


Ollie Lancashire
In the shape of Martin Cranie and Matt Mills, Saints have let a couple of decent young defenders slip through their fingers in recent years.

But Lancashire doesn't look likely to follow.

He signed a new contract at the club in January that keeps him at St Mary's until 2010 and has been a regular in the reserve team aside from a short spell out through injury.

He is big, commanding and very comfortable on the ball.

But at 19 he would need to be paired with a more experienced center half if he were to be thrown in at the deep end.

Joseph Mills, Jamie Hatch
Two young full backs, Mills plays down the left after a fairly recent conversion to that position while Hatch plays down the right.

They have both made massive progress over the past two seasons to make the step up from academy players to reserve regulars.

The first team would still be a big ask for either of them at this stage but, behind the scenes, Saints are hopeful that they will be ready sooner rather later.

That will certainly be the case if their progress continues at its recent rate.


Simon Gillett
At 23, Gillett can hardly be classed as youngster anymore. He seems to have been around, but rarely in the Saints first team, for years now.

The first job for Saints, assuming they want him, is to try and persuade Gillett to sign a new contract as his current deal runs out this summer.

He is a central midfield general, not the tallest by any stretch but dogged and also comfortable on the ball.

Has plenty of league experience having had loan spells at Walsall, Blackpool (twice), Bournemouth and Yeovil, but chances at Saints have been far harder to come by. In fact it wasn't until towards the end of last season he made his first league appearances for Saints, twice coming off the bench under Nigel Pearson.

Lloyd James
Followed in the footsteps of Gareth Bale and Nathan Dyer in coming through the club's satellite academy in Bath under the supervision of Rod Ruddick, who left last year to join Pompey.

James is very highly thought of in Wales and has already been capped at under-21 level despite not even having made a first team appearance for Saints yet.

Is a real passer of the ball and leader of the team as his role as captain in this season's title winning reserve side has proved. Able to get forward and join in the play high up the field as well as playing the holding role that he is generally recognised for he is a versatile midfielder and at 20 has plenty of potential.

James got closer than he has ever been to doing just that when he was named as a sub but not used towards the end of the season.


Adam Lallana
Probably the one who has most captured the imagination of the fans is Lallana, thanks to his terrific goal to earn a vital point in the 1-1 draw at West Brom.

Lallana, who grew up in Bournemouth, has actually been around the fringes of the first team for some time, making his debut back in August 2006 against Yeovil in the Carling Cup.

Lallana's is a remarkable tale as he recovered from an operation to correct an irregular heartbeat, a problem only discovered when he went for his medical after being called up for England's under-17 team for the first time.

Whether Lallana is actually a striker is up for debate.

His quick feet, terrific skill and ability to pick and execute a killer ball make him a candidate to be used in midfield.

His finishing lends him to being a forward player.

But many feel his best role will be just in behind the front men, allowed to drift around wherever he can cause havoc.

Whether at 20 you could build a side around him in that way remains to be seen.

He is, however, sure to find himself somewhere in the first team come the start of next season.

David McGoldrick
Was signed by Saints in 2004 as a promising youngster as they chased that recruitment policy at the time rather than developed solely in the academy.

He has not quite made the step up from prolific reserve team striker to first team regular yet.

Next season is a big one for the 20- year-old, who has scored hatfuls of goals in the second string but not quite been able to translate that into the first team.

There is little doubting his ability but after a few first team opportunities he will need to prove in 2008/09 that he is capable of producing in the Championship.

Has league experience after loan spells at Notts County, Bournemouth and Port Vale, as well as appearances and one goal in the Carling Cup for Saints.

That means he should be ready to make that leap now.

Cedric Baseya
At 20, Baseya is the same age as McGoldrick but they are at different stages of their development.

Whereas McGoldrick has been on the scene for some time, Baseya was only signed in 2005 from French club Bretigny.

His progress has been startling and though he is still fairly raw, he has continued to develop at such a rapid rate he made a first team debut in February, coming on as a late sub in the 1-1 draw with Ipswich.

Baseya is very tall but surprisingly has had to work on his aerial ability.

His big physical presence makes him hard work for defenders and he has been a prolific scorer for the reserves this season.