Having signed a fresh four-year deal at St Mary’s this week, Will Smallbone has been speaking about the importance of role models and the influences he’s had on his career to date.
Singling out James Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens, the midfielder talks about the importance of the Academy pathway at Southampton, and how both players have played their part in his development.
He also reserved praise for manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, who coincidently also signed a new four-year contract last week, and thanked him for the chance to prove himself on the pitch.
“Prowsey has been great,” Will reflected. “He plays in the same position and has obviously come through the Academy as well.
“He’s been a good help during training sessions and then also on the game days. Stevo, Jack Stephens, has been really good in that respect as well.
“They’ve had the same journey, they were in my shoes at one point, so I think they understand what’s needed and what they would have benefited from at the time to help them settle in.
“When you see the amount of players that have made debuts when you’re younger it gives you the drive and hunger to succeed.”
Commenting on the manager, he added: “He speaks a lot to me. The things I want to improve a lot would be defensively, I need to become more of a tackler and stronger and that is something I want to try to improve as time goes on.
“It was very special for me to finally break through [into the first team].”