In the pipeline: Michael Obafemi

Michael Obafemi is the latest talent to roll off the Southampton production line.

The 18-year-old has already made his breakthrough into the first-team, playing five times in the Premier League this season.

His top-flight bow came in the harshest of circumstances – he was introduced in the second half of a 6-1 battering by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium – but he went on to play one minute against Watford, nine against Fulham and, perhaps most impressively, 64 against Manchester United.

He laid on an assist in that game, as Saints earned a 2-2 draw, and scored against Huddersfield Town next time out.

Those games, however, were just a thrilling introduction to Obafemi’s talents for the Saints fans, as he has been injured since the game against the Terriers, after sustaining a hamstring problem.

He has already been talked of in the highest terms by former striker Rickie Lambert, who spent five years at St Mary’s.

“It’s good to see they’re getting back to bringing in youngsters as that’s what Southampton’s renowned for,” said Lamber, per the Daily Echo.

“I know they’ve got a young lad, Obafemi, who can terrify a few defenders from the little glimpses I’ve seen.”

Terrifying defenders is Obafemi’s stock and trade, but he is more than just an identikit pacey winger. Obafemi has a technical precision to his dribbling and is an excellent crosser of the ball. He can, as he has shown, also hit the back of the net.

Indeed, he has scored 12 goals in 32 games for the Under-18s, also laying on two assists, and has netted eight times for the Under-23s, with four assists.

He has been fast-tracked to the first-team and it is of little surprise, such is his exhilarating potential.

After all, not many 18-year-olds in the Premier League can claim to have made their international bow, but Obafemi has a full Republic of Ireland cap to his name after playing 10 minutes in a UEFA Nations League draw with Denmark.

Obafemi could have played for England and Nigeria too, but chose to play for the country of his birth – he was born in Dublin.

Once he is back to full fitness at Saints, more international caps will surely follow, as will the goals in the Premier League.

Both Southampton and Ireland fans have every right to be excited.