Ralph Hasenhuttl is excited by the potential of Romeo Lavia but wants to keep the 18-year-old’s feet firmly on the ground.
Southampton signed the Belgium Under-21 international midfielder from Manchester City last month and his performance was the main high spot from a 4-1 defeat by Tottenham in their opening Premier League match last weekend.
Hasenhuttl said: “I don’t want to hang it too high because I know his qualities. We try to be positive with him but also critical because we want to make him a top-class player and therefore what’s important for the young players I think is not to immediately get praise.
“OK, it was a good performance but be critical with the things we have to make better. What I really like with these young lads is they seem to be very self-critical and want to learn and have input all the time. This is a very good character to get better.”
After their poor end to last season, the pressure is on Saints to find a first victory of this campaign, and their first home match comes on Saturday against Leeds.
The fixture pits two former RB Leipzig managers against each other, with Hasenhuttl taking on Leeds’ American boss Jesse Marsch.
Their only previous meeting on the touchline came in April, when their teams battled out a 1-1 draw.
“I know him very well,” said Hasenhuttl. “We met each other when I was manager at RB Leipzig and he came in for one or two days to visit us. We had one game against each other and it was a good draw, an intense game. So I’m looking forward to the game this weekend.”
Hasenhuttl is confident he knows what to expect from Marsch’s hard-working side, saying: “I don’t want to say it is easy to prepare for them but it’s very clear what you have to expect from them. It makes preparation in a certain way very clear for the team.
“We know not only how it looks but how it feels to play against these teams. We have a lot of training sessions where you get the same feeling that you don’t have time to play the ball as we have the pressure on.”