Saturday, June 22, 2024

Southampton boss Russell Martin tips Taylor Harwood-Bellis to shine for England

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Southampton defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis has been tipped to play “many times” for England by Russell Martin after he helped the club seal an instant return to the Premier League.

Harwood-Bellis made his 46th appearance of the campaign for Saints in their 1-0 win over Leeds in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley.

It secured promotion for Southampton and in the process triggered a clause which will turn Harwood-Bellis’ loan move from Manchester City into a permanent deal.

“I don’t know how much we paid for him, but whatever it was, it will be worth it for sure,” Saints boss Martin insisted.

“I said to him before the game and joked, ‘that the biggest motivation for me was we win so you can carry on working with me and be stuck with me,’ but I genuinely meant it.

“One of the things why I was so desperate to win is to continue working with him because I think he has such a high ceiling.

“I really believe he’ll play for his country many, many times. I hope we can help him on his journey to get there.”

This promotion continued a remarkable 12 months for Man City academy graduate Harwood-Bellis, who played his part in Burnley’s Championship title win last season.

Harwood-Bellis also starred in the Euros triumph for England Under-21s’ last summer.

He told Sky Sports: “I can’t describe that feeling of the final whistle. It was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life and I know I am permanently here now so I am buzzing.

“It is a different feeling (to Burnley) because I know I am here permanently after. So, it had a little bit more to it.

“I love the club, it’s a special football club. The fans have been amazing. Stuck with us through the whole season, through some tough times, some really good times as well but we did it for them.”

Martin knows Harwood-Bellis will be part of Southampton’s squad in the Premier League and is desperate to keep his trio of out-of-contract players.

Alex McCarthy, Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams could all leave as free agents this summer, but Martin is determined to convince them to stay at St Mary’s.

“We’ll try and keep all three,” Martin revealed.

“I know there will be offers for all of them and probably offers that will pay them more than we can, but hopefully the feeling they have and all that stuff will overweigh the financial gain element.

“Maybe there’ll be other things about it; location, club, how they feel but we’ll do our very best to keep all three. All three have been really outstanding.”

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