Southampton boss Pellegrino praises Irish teenager after Premier League debut

“He’s a really fast player and his speed is his most important quality,” the manager said of Michael Obafemi.

Southampton's Michael Obafemi shoots at goal.
Southampton's Michael Obafemi shoots at goal.

Updated at 15.42

SOUTHAMPTON MANAGER MAURICIO Pellegrino offered words of encouragement to Michael Obafemi, after the 17-year-old Dublin-born striker came off the bench to make his debut in the Premier League against Tottenham on Sunday.

The Saints teenager replaced Italy international Manolo Gabbiadini in the 82nd minute with the score at 1-1 and had a decent chance to score the winner late on.

“He’s a really fast player and his speed is his most important quality,” Pellegrino told Southampton’s official website.

“He is also a good finisher, and I observed that their back four was really high and he could have some chances.

“He was there and he was really close, but it’s still the beginning of his career and he has to grow a lot.

“To us, we have had a good history with our home-grown players and Michael is one more.”

Obafemi, whose parents are Nigerian and who has been capped by Ireland at U19 level, has been in excellent form for Southampton at underage level, scoring regularly including a hat-trick in the FA Youth Cup last month.

Southampton are believed to be in the market for a striker this January, with Daniel Sturridge and Olivier Giroud among those linked with a move to the club, so Obafemi may see his first-team chances limited for the remainder of the season.

Nevertheless, it is rare for a 17-year-old to be given an opportunity to play at Premier League level, and shows the esteem with which the youngster is held at the club.

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