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The Conveyor Belt: Sam McQueen

The conveyor belt metaphor has been left unused on this blog for a few years now, thanks Koeman. But it's back and for Sam McQueen it's been a long time coming.

Southampton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

When Targett came up lame fourteen minutes into Sunday's game against Burnley it was a scene that looked eerily similar to one that played out the previous weekend at Wembley. Then it was Bertrand, now it was Targett. Both clutching their hamstrings and it meant Claude Puel was left with a problem.

Where our previous portly manager might have played it safe and put the lovable, but useless going forward, Maya Yoshida in at left back. The Frenchman had no such problem throwing in an inexperienced, talented winger for his first premier league test in front of the live TV cameras.

This faith was repaid in full and it was a fine afternoon for the lad from Romsey.

For fans unfamiliar with the youth teams Sam might be an unknown quantity. I caught up with fellow Musings scribe and academy obsessor Tom Williams (AKA shirleymush) to discuss the past, present and future for our latest saint.

My overly long questions are in bold.

Two years ago McQueen was offered a four year deal whilst his teammates were only entrusted with 1 or 2 years. He obviously was a highly regarded prospect. What were your thoughts on pre-Puel right wing version of Sam McQueen?

"He was always a stylish player and I enjoyed watching him, but with unreconstructed wingers starting to become a bit of an anachronism in modern football I feared for him."

His conversion to full back this summer had an air of opportunism about it. Not too dissimilar to the Callum Chambers scenario in 2013. Do you see any similarities? Could we fluff up his price tag and move him on for £16m in the summer?

"Maybe if we keep playing teams who don't force him to defend, which Burnley didn't. I don't see him as a Chambers type. Chambers could probably play any outfield position, and he was always a good tackler and good in the air. McQueen will have to develop those aspects of his game if he's going to be a proper modern full back instead of a Kolarov type. He's an intelligent player though, so he's got that in common with Chambers."

In pre-season we dominated most games but there seemed to be a few issues defensively. Espanyol in particular had some gifted forwards that ghosted past him. How did you rate his contributions during the summer?

"He was fine, but understandably he's not a natural when it comes to defending one v one, and Guardiola will probably be almost visibly aroused by the possibility of a player who has played only a handful of games at left back lining up with only Charlie Austin to protect him from Raheem Sterling."

There are a surprising number of saints fans that don't rate Matty Targett. How do you rate him? And is the gap in quality between Bertrand and Targett similar to the gap between Targett and Mcqueen?

"With Targett it's the 'availability heuristic'. Fans see an unhealthy looking boy with a relatively sober haircut and think "He can't be a footballer". I think he's a class act personally- good defensively, a sweet left and deceptively quick. He's not as good as Bertrand, but Bertrand is surely as complete a full back as there is in the Premier League. Comparing either of them to McQueen probably isn't particularly helpful. They are full backs; he (at the moment) is still a winger who runs a bit further back than usual. He's probably comparable in terms of technical ability, but not positioning or nous."

When he first came on it was obvious he was trying to cover for his man at all times yesterday, perhaps over eager to not make a mistake, it dragged him out of position a fair bit but Burnley didn't ever look like exploiting it. I enjoyed him telling Steve Davis that Gudmundsson was now his concern and Davis really couldn't give a damn.

I know no one likes to make comparisons but is there any player that you could compare Mcqueen to?

"I mentioned Kolarov. In terms of style, Chris Waddle, for those who remember. Don't think he was ever converted to left back though.

I was glad to hear him say that he made a point of not trying anything too extrovert yesterday as I thought at the time that he was playing in a way that was more simplistic than I've seen from him in youth football. All in all I think he could definitely develop into a player who offers an option against tactically unambitious teams."

I thought that about Jeremy Pied for the 15 minutes he played this season. I used to hate watching Yoshida try to play as an attacking full back against a side parking the bus.

I may be over optimistic but Bertrand seems to be a rare entity, a cerebral footballer. He was burnt by the Chelsea system and understands that staying at the saints isn't the horrific option many agents seem to think. Targett, unlike Luke Shaw, is a lifelong saints fan. They both could be sticking around for the long term. What is Sam's future?

"As long as Bertrand and Targett are around and the squad remains as strong as it is I would think his opportunities will be limited, but if he continues to impress the brass might feel tempted by a crazy offer for one of the other LBs. If not, he's just shown in national TV that he can be an attacking threat, so other clubs might be interested. But I think a problem for academy products who leave is that they've been prepared to play for Saints in a 4-3-3, playing the ball around on nice pitches. They haven't been taught how to just sit on the edge of their own area and launch it into the channels. This might be why Sam ended up on the bench a lot of the time when he was on loan at Southend.

I've no idea if that is Southend's style of play, by the way. The point is that he's been groomed to play for us in the PL, and it may not be easy for him to adapt to other styles."