4 Southampton Youngsters Who Have Impressed During Saints Pre-Season Friendlies

Following their return to the Premier League in 2012, Southampton had established themselves as a solid top-half club, even managing to qualify for the Europa League on a couple of occasions amid smart managerial appointments and astute signings. ​

The sacking of Claude Puel in 2017 marked Southampton's downfall and the Saints have spent the last two seasons battling relegation. The arrival of Ralph Hasenhüttl, however, seems to have brought renewed confidence to the club.

The Saints have performed superbly this pre-season, winning four of their five games, with Hasenhüttl giving many youngsters a chance to prove themselves in the process. With this in mind, here is a list of four youngsters who could find themselves in Southampton's first team this season. 

Michael Obafemi

Michael Obafemi

Michael Obafemi broke into the ​Southampton side last season, scoring one goal in six games and even getting a call-up to the Republic of Ireland senior team before a hamstring injury cut his season short.

Obafemi has now returned from injury and has continued his strong performances into pre-season, making four appearances. 

The Republic of Ireland international failed to find the net in these games but played an important role in Southampton's second against FC Köln, with the youngster playing a key pass to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who after passing and receiving the ball from Che Adams, scored a tap-in.  

Proving that he has a good eye for passing in addition to his blistering pace and finishing could prove an invaluable asset for Hasenhüttl in 2019/20. Provided he stays uninjured, this could be Obafemi's season. 

Will Smallbone

Yet to make a first-team appearance for the Saints, 19-year-old Will Smallbone has featured heavily throughout pre-season, even getting a full 90 minutes in their 3-1 win against Preston North End. 

Smallbone has repaid Hasenhüttl's faith with a series of impressive performances, with the attacking midfielder particularly impressing in the Preston game, where he played a key pass to Ryan Bertrand who in turn crossed the ball into the box for Danny Ings who headed it into the goal. 

These performances would have surely impressed Hasenhüttl, who might now be keen to see how Smallbone performs on the big stage.

Che Adams

Che Adams

With Southampton struggling for goals over the last few seasons, some eyebrows were raised when Che Adams was signed from ​Championship side ​Birmingham City to remedy this problem, given his lack of experience in the top-flight. 

Adams, however, has given Saints fans a lot of reasons to be optimistic, with the 23-year-old getting an impressive goalscoring return of three goals in five games.

Having proven himself to be a more than capable finisher during pre-season, the pressure will now be on Adams to deliver in the ​Premier League

Jake Vokins

Yet another product of Southampton's famous academy, 19-year-old Jake Vokins made four appearances for the Saints this pre-season and scored one goal - a tap-in against Preston. 

His encouraging performances and the departure of Matt Targett to ​Aston Villa will surely mean that Vokins will act as a back-up option in case of an injury to Ryan Bertrand and may also get a chance to start in cup games. 

Source : 90min