Matt is on Targett for first team place
The night of the Understudy again produced its shocks and, as always, gave insight into the short and long term future of some clubs who have a lot to prove. Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup saw many new signings and youth players step up to prove they are ready to lead their club through whatever this season has to offer. It was an evening that saw these players hit success and failure. Events such as first goals, dramatic penalty misses and even entire team failures from big clubs gave us yet another night of memorable cup football.
An important night for many, but none more so than at Southampton. A club full of new signings and a youth academy bursting with players waiting for that chance. It was an evening when Shane Long started for the first time, giving signs his energy could make him a well suited partner for Graziano Pelle. The Italian striker had a big night too, scoring his first competitive goal for the club. Whilst a goal away at Millwall may not seem like something to shout about, on a night where he showed his instinct for being in the right place, finally breaking his duck could be the confidence boost he needs to take his goal scoring form into the Premiership.
For one player it was an even bigger night, teenage full back Matt Targett made his first start for the club and looks like Saints have done it again. Comparisons will be drawn with Luke Shaw and Callum Chambers and that is to be expected but this lad is an individual and without the fanfare that surrounded Shaw, Targett can progress at his own speed. Ryan Bertrand will be Saints first choice left back this year but with a season as number two, the south coast’s newest prodigy can learn his trade, hone his skills and may even be ready to be a first team regular when Bertrand’s loan runs out.
Early impressions suggest Saints have found a possible replacement for Shaw within their ranks and it is great to see Koeman willing to give youth a chance. However, a glance at Tuesday’s team sheet shows how serious the Dutchman is taking this competition, with only 3 changes from the team that drew with West Brom at the weekend. After such a turnaround of players this season, keeping the first team playing together and gaining confidence from a first win may well prove a great decision.