independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Adkins' pride at Ox

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returns to St Mary's on New Year's Day

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins is proud of the way Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is developing but warned the winger that he and his Arsenal team-mates face a tough test at St Mary's.

The 19-year-old is a graduate of the south coast club's academy system, following in the footsteps of players like Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott. Oxlade-Chamberlain made his name under the tutorship of Adkins, helping Saints secure automatic promotion from npower League One in 2011.

"I think he will get a fantastic reception," the Saints boss said. "He is one of the players that came through our system."

He added: "I went to watch him against Reading the other night and he was exhilarating, with his acceleration to go away, a desire to get on the football. He is a joy to watch."

Saints may be in the bottom three heading into the game, but they are a different proposition now due to a new-found sturdiness and confidence,

"We have only lost two of the last nine games, which is important and both of them were narrow 1-0 defeats," Adkins added.

The Saints boss will also have half an eye on potential business with the transfer window reopening. He confirmed Saints had a £6million bid rejected for Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland in the summer following recent comments from City's acting chairman, Peter Pannu.

Adkins would not be drawn on whether he would make another move for the England goalkeeper and was similarly coy when asked about reports linking Southampton with Cagliari defender Davide Astori.

"I am aware of him, I know he is a good centre-half," Adkins said of the Italy international. "We haven't put a bid in as far as I am aware and I don't think we've made any enquiries about him."

He added: "There are lots of players that we talk about, we are aware of, we scout but it doesn't mean we're going to buy them or make any inquiries."

Press Association

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