Youngster Marcus Barnes spoke of his satisfaction at earning his first start at Under-21 level after Monday night’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester United.
Southampton Under-18s’ leading goalscorer made the step up to Martin Hunter’s side for the game against the Barclays Under-21 Premier League leaders at Leigh Sports Village.
And, having earned three substitute appearances for the Under-21s prior to Monday evening’s game, he told Southampton’s official YouTube channel that whilst it was pleasing to start the game, the final result wasn’t an easy one to take.
“It was finally good to get a start, disappointing result to take. I thought we had a good performance in the second half and if we’d started that way it would have been a different result. We hit the post twice, had an offside goal, and I think there was a bit of a handball with the goal, and maybe it’s a different game,” said the forward.
“They didn’t really play through us once. We were in control most of the game, we picked up the second balls and we played through them, which they didn’t do to us.”
Barnes tried his luck from range in the second period as Saints came out fighting, but saw his shot flash just past the post.
The teenager was deployed on the right flank against Warren Joyce’s men, and afterwards said it’s a position he’s familiar with.
“I just got on the half turn and had half a yard of space and I though, just go for it,” said Barnes of his chance. “It left my foot and is thought it was a great strike, but it just went a bit past the post. I was disappointed, but maybe on another day it’ll go in.
“I’m quite able to play on the wide position very well. I played mostly wide last season and managed to get a lot of goals from there as well, and I’ve sort of adapted to striker this season, so it was good to go back on the wide position again.”
Hunter’s charges will now face Leicester City at St Mary’s next Monday, before back-to-back games against Manchester City bring the curtain down on the campaign.
Barnes reckons that their second half display at Leigh Sports Village gives them hope going into the end-of-season run-in, and is hopeful he’ll be able to cement his place in the side over the coming weeks.
“If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best, and that’s the mentality we’ve got at this club, and we think if we play like we did in the second half, we could beat any of those teams, because that’s how we play – that’s Southampton, and no team is better than us at doing what we do,” he said.
“I just want to keep hoping to train well and earn my place again against Leicester in the coming week and then keep pushing, hopefully get a couple of starts and then hopefully a few goals at the same time.”