FORMER Saints boss Nigel Adkins has urged new signing Che Adams to seize his opportunity on the south coast.
Adams joined the St Mary’s outfit from Birmingham for £15m at the beginning of July and netted just two minutes into his pre-season debut against SCR Altach on Sunday.
Adkins, who led Saints back into the Premier League with a second successive promotion seven years ago, worked with the striker at Sheffield United and believes he has the attributes to be a top-flight success.
He told the Daily Echo: “I think everybody has to grasp an opportunity that presents itself.
“Che has now got a great opportunity at a super club like Southampton as long as he knuckles down and works hard, who from what I can see have a very good manager.
“There are many young players who have left clubs at an early age and went and played non-league football.
“Che did that which is very good for his development instead of just playing youth football somewhere.
“Like everything you look for natural progression.
“He obviously had a good season last year with Birmingham, scored a lot of goals and caught the club’s eye.
“As long as he keeps his mindset right and keeps striving to improve, then he has got a great opportunity from what I can see at a really good football club.
“It’s going to be down to him.”
Adams joined Sheffield United back in 2014 from Ilkeston Town – a year before Adkins took charge of the club.
The ex-Saints manager’s assistant, Dean Wilkins, worked closely with the 22-year-old during their Blades tenure and played an important role in his development.
Adkins could spot the raw talent Adams possessed but there were other areas of his game that he and Wilkins helped fine-tune.
“He’d been there the previous year and he joined from non-league,” continued Adkins.
“He had raw talent but needed to understand what being professional was about.
“It was about understanding what it takes to get to the top level and it’s great to see him in the Premier League now.
“He had the pace and an eye for goal but, obviously, it’s how he looked after himself as a professional athlete.
“That was one of the big things that he had to start doing and, over a period of time, he did that. It’s good that he went to Birmingham as well because he really hit it off there.
“He had a good manager in Garry Monk and James Beattie would have spent a lot of time with him as well. His progression has been good.”
Despite Adams’ encouraging start as a Saints player, Adkins does not believe he should set himself a goals target for the upcoming campaign.
Adkins explained: “His first target should be to play.
“I had Dominic Calvert-Lewin and now he has gone to Everton and played which is important from a young player’s point of view.
“As long as he’s playing, I wouldn’t put any pressure on targets for goals you might not score. You just want to be involved as much as possible and contribute to the squad.
“What you’ve got to do is just let Che go and play and don’t put any pressure on him.
“He has got to sample being at a Premier League club, work out what’s required and realise it’s another step-up for him.
“He can play across the front line and he’ll score goals as long as he keeps working because the culture is great at Southampton.
“He’ll have every opportunity, so just don’t put any pressure on him.”