"The decision you have to take is who you give a chance to. There will be five players, so half of the team will be new.”
Saints boss, Ralph Hasenhüttl, says he is confident that his young players can step up and make a positive contribution in tonight's FA Cup tie versus Shrewsbury Town.
With a number of senior squad members currently unavailable - including Danny Ings, Jannik Vestergaard and Oriol Romeu - the Austrian is set to pick five 'B team' prospects in his starting line-up for the rearranged third round fixture.
Speaking to Total Saints ahead of the game, Hasenhüttl reaffirmed his belief that those selected will be ready to show exactly what they can do, despite a lack of first team experience.
"The more important thing is what happens on the pitch and how committed and how organised you are. This is more helpful for the young players, especially when they get good information from our playbook, from the way we want to play in this Club and this is the reason why we did this big work in the summer, for a completely new philosophy for this Club."
"When I see the development of these young players, in the way we want to play, then it is much easier now to take them and to put them in the team and expect good things."
Asked by another member of the media whether he was concerned there hadn't been any competitive B team action for over a month, Hasenhüttl added, "Yes, but they [Shrewsbury] also haven't played since December, so there will not be too many differences."
Prior to suffering a serious coronavirus outbreak, Shrewsbury's last game was on the 29th December (a 1-0 win over Blackpool in League One).
A number of positive Covid-19 tests have since meant their training ground being closed and several matches postponed - including the original tie with Saints.
It was also reported on Monday that the Shrew's manager, Steve Cotterill, is still recovering from the virus in hospital and won't be in attendance at St. Mary's.
As for Hasenhüttl, while he'll obviously be keen for his young guns to make an impact, the Austrian is doing his best to manage expectation.
"There is a reason why we have half the team, half new and half experienced, as that gives us a chance to have players on the pitch to help the other ones."
"I do not expect the best ever performance from every play, I just hope that they try to bring what they need to do in all parts of our game."
"I know that there will be mistakes, that's not an issue. They can bring on the pitch whatever they can bring and that will be enough."
Arsenal will face tonight's winner in the FA Cup fourth round. That match is scheduled to be played this coming Saturday (23rd January).
Article by Ben Stanfield
(Photos via Getty Images and Southampton Football Club)