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Ralph Hasenhuttl keen to develop talent from Southampton academy

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl believes football is becoming a younger man’s game as he prepares to face a youthful Chelsea team.

Austrian Hasenhuttl is keen to develop talent from Saints’ academy with a long-term view of selling them on for significant profit.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have fielded numerous youngsters this term as they cope with the restrictions of a transfer ban.

Blues boss Frank Lampard has already turned Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham into first-team regulars at Stamford Bridge, as well as giving opportunities to the likes of Reece James, Billy Gilmour and the fit-again Callum Hudson-Odoi.

While former RB Leipzig boss Hasenhuttl accepts it can be a gamble to select inexperienced youngsters, he feels the potential benefits outweigh the risk.

“It seems that players are getting younger and younger,” said the 52-year-old ahead of Sunday’s game at St Mary’s.

“I have a lot of experience playing with young players in Leipzig, it was a very young team.

“I think a few years ago nobody would take this risk but if you can handle that they are making a few more mistakes, the development for the players is a massive one and they will make big steps in their development very quick.

“Although you know maybe it can cost you a few points or a few wins, but for our club it’s very important to work like this because we must develop young guys from our own academy.

“We must have a few guys for the future, they bring us profit and maybe high transfer fees when we sell them to bigger clubs. This is our way we want to go. It means we have to work with them very, very hard.”

Defender Tomori and midfielder Mount have received England recognition this season, while striker Abraham, who won two caps in 2017, has returned to the international scene after scoring seven Premier League goals.

Hasenhuttl has praised the transitional approach of Lampard and admits managers of the division’s top teams are often under too much pressure to produce instant results to consider picking academy products.

“If Chelsea wouldn’t have this transfer ban I think they wouldn’t play in the moment,” Hasenhuttl said of the Blues’ young players.

“Tammy Abraham came back as a loan player and now he shows he’s good enough to play in such a fantastic team.

“This is the way you can go, you need a little bit of time. The problem with the big clubs is you don’t get this time very often, they want to see immediate success and good results.

“It’s not the easiest way to go but I think Frank does it fantastic.”

Lampard got the better of Hasenhuttl in January when his Derby team overcame Saints on penalties in an FA Cup third-round replay.

While many former top-level players fail to successfully move into management, Hasenhuttl believes Lampard possesses the necessary drive.

“He was successful as a player but that doesn’t mean that you are also hungry and successful as a manager,” said Hasenhuttl.

“And that’s maybe the reason not so many big players make it this way because to be manager today means – from maybe eight in the morning to eight in the evening – working every minute for the club and looking for the best way to make the club successful and not everybody has this hunger.

“But I think he has this and that means he can make a big way as a manager.”