Eight of Southampton’s 18 players in their matchday squad on Saturday afternoon cut their teeth in the club’s Academy and Callum Slattery was the latest beneficiary.
The likes of Yan Valery, Tyreke Johnson and Michael Obafemi had already broken into the first-team setup this season before Slattery and fellow youngster Marcus Barnes made their own debuts against Derby County in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round.
The midfielder’s significant step forwards at Pride Park was due to the hard work of everyone involved with the club’s youth players as well as the “fantastic” belief shown in them by First Team Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl.
“Everyone one works so hard to get to this stage, it’s never easy,” he said after the final whistle in the East Midlands. “When you get this moment, you’ve got to grab it with both hands. I’ve had to work extremely hard to make the chance and now I’ve got to take it.
"I found out the day before in training but managed to keep it quiet and just prepared in my head as I normally would for any game. I felt good, the lads were fantastic helping me through and made me feel comfortable. I played it simple and it felt good to be out there.”
For Slattery, these are exciting times for young players at Southampton in light of the faith shown by Hasenhüttl in his growing academy prospects.
“The confidence it gives us to do this and the belief that he shows in us is fantastic, so for us to get that chance is great from his part. The way he deals with us in training and speaks to us is great as well.”