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Saints seek to keep Shaw in summer


Luke Shaw, left, received his first senior England call-up this week

Luke Shaw, left, received his first senior England call-up this week

Luke Shaw, left, received his first senior England call-up this week

Southampton's fast-increasing "prestige" can help keep England new boy Luke Shaw at St Mary's beyond the summer, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Saints boss Pochettino hailed full-back Shaw's first senior England call-up for Wednesday's friendly clash with Denmark at Wembley.

Pochettino said teenager Shaw's England elevation can aid the fight to fend off the circling Manchester City and Chelsea, with both Barclays Premier League giants keen on prising the 18-year-old away from the south coast.

The Argentine manager backed Southampton's England quartet to force their way into Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad for the summer tournament in Brazil.

"That's clearly our intention; we want to keep hold of our young players, such as Luke Shaw: we want to keep hold of our young, talented players, and that's our intention for the future," said Pochettino.

"It's very important that Southampton have four players in the England squad, that's a massive boost for this club, but it also enhances the prestige of this club, so it's a very important thing."

Southampton academy graduate Shaw has joined Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana in the full England squad.

Saints boss Pochettino believes all four have a realistic opportunity to make England's final World Cup roster.

"For any player it's a massive boost to get called up to the English national side, especially looking at the fact there's such a short time until the World Cup," he said.

"It's a great opportunity for them, and it's a great chance for them to actually be on that plane to Brazil."

Southampton will give defender Jos Hooiveld and midfielder Victor Wanyama as long as possible to prove their fitness for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool.

Hooiveld missed the league encounter at West Ham last weekend with an eye injury while Kenyan midfielder Wanyama is set to remain sidelined by the unspecified knock which kept him out of the squad to face the Hammers.

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho has returned to training after two months out with a hamstring injury but Daniel Agger will retain his place at centre-back for the trip.

Midfielder Lucas Leiva is back working with the first-team group after a six-week absence with a knee injury but will not be considered for the weekend. Left-back Jose Enrique continues his rehabilitation from a knee operation which has sidelined him since early November.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is less concerned about his defence than he is about winning their way to a successful end to the season.

The Reds have kept just two clean sheets in their last 11 games stretching back to mid-December, have conceded seven goals in their last three matches and their defensive record is the second-worst of the top 11 teams.

But, in contrast, they are the Premier League's leading scorers with 70 in 27 games and their superior firepower in their last two league matches against Fulham and Swansea is what has kept them afloat in the title race.

That does not mean defence is not an area Rodgers wants to improve but with just over two months of the season remaining results become ever more important.

"We obviously conceded disappointing goals last weekend (in beating Swansea 4-3) but ultimately at this stage of the season it is about winning," said Rodgers.

"We conceded one goal from a free-kick, another was a penalty and another was an incredible finish by Jonjo Shelvey.

"We have put in some outstanding team performances over the last four to six weeks and been so exciting to watch going forward.

"It's a collective effort. When we attack and score the goals we have it is because of the squad.

"If we've scored 70 goals and are the highest goalscorers it is because we are building a platform for the team to go forward and play.

"If we defend (badly) it is because we haven't pressed the ball high enough at the top of the field and that is a consequence for the rest of the team.

"It is just (having) that composure and focus but it is not just the back four and goalkeeper. Ultimately we won the game.

"This is a team evolving and improving all the time, and I will never move that to the side. You can never stop: performance is important for us because winning is a natural consequence of that.

"We don't put the team out every week to look nice, we are working to win.

"We won't play perfect football but we have put ourselves in a great position with 11 games to go."

PA Media