"This is the level young players have to reach. If they don't then they have no chance to play here!"
Those were the words Ralph Hasenhüttl used to describe two of his senior stars - James Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings - when reflecting on their latest involvement with England.
Ahead of his team's 3-3 draw against Chelsea, the Saints manager outlined just how important it is for young players at the Club to take inspiration from the effort, commitment and quality that his captain and top goalscorer consistently show.
Speaking to Total Saints, Hasenhüttl said, "Yes, these are the best examples. If you want to play for us you have to run more than Prowsey. Prowsey is a role model for hard work. Oriol is the same. If you are a young player here at this Club and you want to play in this position, you have to invest more than they do and this is not so easy, but this is the level you have to reach."
The Austrian added, "If you don't then you cannot ask for it. I think this must be the same with Ingsy with his finishing qualities, with his percentage of shots on the goal and scoring them, this is the level the young players have to reach. If they don't then they have no chance to play here. I think it's good to have such players in your Club because that sets the level."
Hasenhüttl, who spent part of his 2020 'lockdown' putting together a new 'SFC playbook' - which will ultimately see a 'consistent coaching and playing style implemented across the Club's academy' - is renowned for demanding nothing less than 100% from his players.
The current Saints team is one of the fittest in the Premier League and, as they showed with their 92nd minute equaliser at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, collectively align to the manager's 'never give up' philosophy.
So, with the Club once again focused on producing youngsters who can eventually play for the first team, its a clear message from the Saints manager - however good you are technically, you must be prepared to work hard for this football club - day in, day out!
Article by Ben Stanfield
(Photo via 90min.com)