Southampton Manager Nigel Adkins is ready to hand 16 year-old Apprentice James Ward-Prowse a first-team debut.
The midfielder, who already has a squad number (30) has represented England at U17 level after joining the club on a full-time basis over the summer.
Adkins is believed to be a long term admirer of the youngster’s talents and believes he is ready to make the step from the Academy where he has played for both Saints Under-18s and 21s squads.
Ward-Prowse has been named in the squad to travel to Crystal Palace in the fourth round of the Carling Cup tonight, and Adkins is backing the starlet to make the step up in the last 16 clash at Selhurst Park.
“He has got a maturity about him that is beyond his years and passes the ball ever so well,” Adkins told the Clubs website.
“I have every confidence he is going to do very well.”
“He trained a lot with the first team last season and this year and we have every confidence in him.”
“James has not been fazed in any way, shape or form when he has trained with the first team which is pleasing. He has played really well in the development games and we are going to give him an opportunity.”
Ward-Prowse has featured regularly at Under-21 and Under-18s level this season. He has made five appearances for the U21s and has been a near ever present in Jason Dodd’s U18s team.
“He plays in the middle of the park and he has something about him,” Adkins continued.
“He is intelligent, has a great attitude and this shows we have a commitment to youth here at Southampton.”
“What a great experience for him to play at Selhurst Park, and this is all part of his development. This whole experience is going to be great for him and the players will get behind him and I know our supporters will get behind him.”
“Our commitment is to make sure we have a path through our youth team for players to get into the first team.”