MAURICIO Pellegrino is grateful for the fight shown by Saints’ home-grown talent during their scrap at the bottom of the Premier League.

The St Mary’s chief believes academy graduate James Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens, who has been at the club since he was 16 years old, are inspirations to those around them during this relegation dogfight.

Ahead of today's massive game against Liverpool, Pellegrino knows they have huge value, especially at this difficult time, because the club means so much to them.

“Yes, for sure. I don’t have any doubt about that,” he said when asked if keeping Saints in the Premier League meant more to Ward-Prowse, Stephens and other academy men.

“To create a feeling that you are a part of the club and you are really concerned about the situation of the club, you are really concerned about the fans and you want to improve and you want to grow with the team then you need a group of men behind the players.

“But it has to be with home-grown players and it has to be that you keep the same group for year over year.

“This is the difficult situation for every single manager in the world, the globalisation doesn’t allow us to keep the same group and when the players don’t play, they aren’t happy and they want to change.

“They have got a lot of market now and this is something that is not easy. The diversity is something that is really good but to understand the diversity to settle in a different culture, you need time. And this is the problem right now, we don’t have time.”

Saints have a rich history of bringing through youngsters from the club’s famed Staplewood academy.

However, so often, the products of the youth programme quickly move on to  pastures new.

Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw are all examples of Saints talent leaving the south coast for other clubs.

Pellegrino knows the likes of Ward-Prowse and Stephens, who have both proved to be top performers of late, are an example to the next generation.

Midfielder Ward-Prowse has netted four times this season, while centre-back Stephens has scored three goals in as many matches. They are both mainstays in the team right now.

“It is really important because the home-grown players have got the plus and they are the example for the next home-grown player that will come from the academy,” he said.

“We have another group of players who are in the reserve team and they can be the example for the rest.”

He added: “Inspire the rest of the home-grown academy but I also think that these players can have a plus because they have been working a lot of the time to have this possibility. When you have got the possibility, you have to translate this on the pitch.”