Southampton have a number of players in their senior squad at the moment who have come through the club’s youth system such as James Ward-Prowse, Theo Walcott and Nathan Tella among others.
One other example is defender Jack Stephens who has made 139 senior appearances for the Saints after working his way through their youth system, scoring six goals and providing five assists in the process.
Stephens had played every minute of Premier League action for Southampton so far this season before he, unfortunately, suffered a fairly serious knee injury during their 0-0 draw against Manchester City back in September that has ruled him out for 12 weeks.
Looking ahead to the future and which current young players in Southampton’s youth ranks could potentially go on to become the next first-team star at St. Mary’s, we feel that 17-year-old defender Lewis Payne could be somebody who replicates Stephens’ success.
As a product of the club’s youth academy, Payne has gone on to make 23 appearances for Southampton’s U18 side in which he has netted one goal and provided two assists as well as making 14 appearances for the club’s B team, the latest of which came on Sunday afternoon when he found the net twice.
So far this season, Payne has played 90 minutes in all but one of the Southampton B team’s first eight league games of the season, not only showing how important is to their side but also how much of a versatile player he is considering he’s played at left-back, right-back, defensive-midfield, right-midfield and centre-back in this campaign.
Only winger Kazeem Olaigbe and fellow centre-back Dynel Simeu have played more minutes for Southampton’s B team so far this season according to Transfermarkt.
If Payne continues playing regularly for Saints’ B team and proving himself as a useful and versatile figure for them, we feel he has what it takes to eventually make his senior debut for the south coast side and possibly become a regular figure for them as a potential long-term replacement for Stephens given he’s Southampton’s oldest current defender.