Adkins accepts cup gamble

Saints youngsters come up short against Eagles

Nigel Adkins: Southampton manager opted to blood his youngsters in Carling Cup

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Nigel Adkins made no apologies for playing a much-changed Southampton side against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup.

The Saints boss made a staggering 10 changes to his line-up which included 16-year-old debutant James Ward-Prowse and 19-year-old Ben Reeves.

Southampton are top of the Championship but with this side Adkins made it clear where his priories lie as goals from Darren Ambrose and Jermaine Easter secured Palace's passage to the last eight for the first time in eight years.

"We came with the mentality to win the game even though we made 10 changes," Adkins said.

"Ultimately it's about winning and we haven't. But we are totally committed to the youth system at Southampton and I'm delighted with James Ward-Prowse, he looked very assured and comfortable with the ball.

"We've utilised this competition to give the youngsters an opportunity. It's a hard one as a manager, it's about having a squad and utilising it well. The players need game time.

"But I wanted to win the game and get through even though we made changes."

Big club

Palace boss Dougie Freedman is himself dreaming of a promotion bid with his in-form side currently third, but he allowed his thoughts to wander towards Saturday's quarter-final draw.

"I hope it's a home draw against a big club," he said. "If we can get a home draw it will be a big advantage for us.

"We are pleased, it was a hard-fought win, and we had to defend for most of the game.

"We gave a lot of respect to Southampton, who are a very good team. But we defended well and that enabled us to go on and get the goals.

"Over the 90 minutes we deserved to win."