Meet The New Boys

By SFC Media time Fri 06 Jul Club

Eight youngsters started life as a full-time scholar with Saints this week, and went to meet them.

The 16 year-olds have all represented Saints in Academy teams as schoolboys on a part-time basis, but now they are increasing their football education by playing and learning within a scholarship in a bid to earn a professional contract.

With many famous graduates as shining examples to follow, this year's intake - many of whom have already featured for the Under-18s - will be looking to follow he likes of James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, and Jack Stephens, who have all joined up with the first team ahead of the new season.

Academy Manager Matt Crocker says that each player will be assigned an individual programme in order to make the most of their opportunity with progression time varying from person to person.

"The whole idea behind a scholarship is that we build things up," he explained.

"We're putting the foundations and the building blocks in place over the coming years to get the players as fit and as strong and in tune with the club's philosophy as much as we can so that they have the best opportunity that they can to become first team players.

"Obviously we hope that and we've seen that with the four boys who have already joined up with the first team, so we hope that they go with a positive impression and impact so that they stay in and around that squad.

"We have a pathway for each individual in the development programme, but it will all be what's right for them as it will be different challenges at different times for all of them.

"Some will progress quickly and early and others will be slow burners that will take a while. What we do is ensure that there is a thorough programme lined up for them.

"Fortunately what we have got is a fantastic manager and support staff who clearly believe that there needs to be and that there is, a clear pathway for our young players at this club to move forward into the first team which is what it's all about."

The eight players joining are:

Name: Matt Targett 

D.O.B: 18/09/1995

Position: Left Back

A Saints fan who joined the Academy aged 8 after being scouted from his local team. Matt is a full back who likes to play in a relaxed approach, but can also get forward to deliver crosses.

Name: Sam Gallagher 

D.O.B: 15/09/1995

Position: Striker

At 6' 4" Sam is a handful for opponents which he showed by scoring a hat-trick on his debut for the Under-16s last season following his arrival from Plymouth Argyle.

The forward has pace to go alongside his physical presence.

Name: Tom Leggett

D.O.B: 04/02/1996

Position: Right Back

Another full back who likes to get forward and has a range of passing in his locker. Leggett has previously represented Fulham until Under-15 level and has already played for Saints' Under-18s. Tom's awareness makes him reliable as a last man of defence too.

Name: Ryan Seager

D.O.B: 05/02/1996

Position: Striker

A clever centre forward who has a useful habit of poaching goals, which he showed with a debut strike for the Under-18s against Arsenal last season.

Name: Jake Hesketh 

D.O.B: 27/03/1996

Position: Centre Midfield

A stylish midfielder who likes to control the play. He models his game on Spanish midfielder Iniesta. Jake joined Saints aged 8 after being spotted at a local tournament and a subsequent summer coaching course.

Name: Jake Flannigan 

D.O.B: 02/02/1996

Position: Centre Midfield

Midfielder who likes to roam but doesn't shy away from a challenge. Jake was scouted aged 12 when playing for Tyro reps on the Isle of Wight, which led to a seven week trial at Saints.

Name: Jason McCarthy

D.O.B: 07/11/1995

Position: Centre Back

'Macca' is a passionate player whose desire makes him a natural leader on the pitch. The towering centre back can also play in midfield and has also previously represented Saints at Under-18s level.

Name: Charlie Higgins

D.O.B: 19/10/1995

Position: Centre Midfield

Charlie is a recent recruit who has previously played in Watford's Academy. A hard worker with an eagerness to learn, he has already become a popular figure here after captaining and scoring for a Saints side in a 4-2 win over Portsmouth. 

Forever Saint award: Kelvin Davis

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Award presented to the club's long-term servant.

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