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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 25 February 2021
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Ireland underage midfielder rewarded with four-year Southampton deal after making debut

20-year-old Will Smallbone has been at the club since the age of eight.

Smallbone celebrating his debut goal in the FA Cup in January.
Smallbone celebrating his debut goal in the FA Cup in January.
Image: Adam Davy

WILL SMALLBONE HAS been handed a four-year deal by Southampton, it has been announced today. 

The 20-year-old, who is capped for Ireland at U18 and U19 level, has been at the club since the age of eight. 

English-born midfielder Smallbone progressed through the ranks at the Saints’ famous academy and shone in the Premier League’s reserve league in 2018/19. 

In January, he made his first-team debut in an FA Cup third-round tie against Huddersfield Town and marked the occasion with the opening goal. He has since played twice in the Premier League. 

“I’m very happy,” Smallbone said, reacting to the news. “I’ve been at the club for a long time now, so to commit my long-term future, for another four years, is very special for me.

“To see the manager sign a new contract was big for me too. He’s given me a chance this season to, firstly, be in and around training with the squad and then actually give me my chance in the games to play and show what I could do, so that’s a big factor in me committing as well.”

Saints manager Ralph Hasenhüttl added: “Will is a young man who is part of the future of this football club. He has made some big steps this season, and he is someone who has a lot of potential to continue to grow as a player. This is the right place for him to continue to do this.

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“He has shown in our training sessions and under pressure in matches that he can play, and he is also someone who understands our philosophy as a team and a club.

“He knows where and how he needs to improve his game, and I think that, together, we can develop him a lot in these next few years.”

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Ben Blake

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