Young Pair Loving Opportunity

By SFC Media Fri 20 Jul Club

Young duo Jack Stephens and Calum Chambers say they are relishing the chance to mix in with the Saints' First Team.

The pair make up two of the four Academy products promoted into Nigel Adkins' squad for the 2012-13 season after making excellent progress in the Under 18 and Under 21 sides.

Stephens and Chambers - along with James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw - have now featured in all three of Saints' pre-season matches and have spent this week at a training camp in Évian-les-Bains.

"I'm loving it - it's a great experience," Calum told Saints Player.

"The tempo is a lot higher, and that's improving us. We're getting good opportunities and now we've just got to show everyone what we can do.

"I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday's game (the 4-1 win over Étoile Carouge in which Chambers assisted two goals) - everything about it was really good.

"I do think about how far I've come quite a bit," continued the 17-year-old.

"It's all a bit of a shock when you think about it, but it's exciting. My friends and family love it, so they keep telling me to try my best and take every opportunity with both hands.

"It'd be unbelievable to stay in the team for next season."

Stephens echoed his pal's thoughts, saying: "It's been great. All of the lads were really good and welcoming, and I think we've settled in really well.

"It's been hard work but I think we've done alright. I was obviously delighted to play at St Mary's [for the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup], and I came on at half-time the other night, which was good.

"We've just got to take each day as it comes, so we'll keep working hard in training and, if we get a chance to play [in the Barclays Premier League], then we've got to take it with both hands.

"It's obviously going to be difficult because we've got a lot of good players in the squad and there are players coming in, as we've seen this week.

"In my position we still have three brilliant centre-halves with me, so it'll still be difficult. I'm sure there'll be one-or-two more new faces coming in before the end of pre-season, too.

"We've just got to keep enjoying it, keep working hard and we'll see what happens."

Having already faced Arsenal and Anderlecht, Saints' pre-season schedule will see Ajax and Udinese come to St Mary's before the season begins in a month's time.

And the duo agree that having the chance to play against such giants of the European game is proving invaluable.

"It's all very exciting," said Calum.

"It gives you an idea of what level you need to get to in order to play there - you have got to keep concentrating the whole time.

"You learn a lot from it."

"It's good experience to play against big clubs and world-class players," Stephens agreed.

"Arsenal, Anderlecht, Ajax and Udinese are all Champions League teams. If you switch off for a second, they will punish you - such good players just wait for you to switch off and then take advantage."

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