Connolly: Wallace should follow Saints man’s example

David Connolly, left, believes Jed Wallace is at the right club to develop his game Picture: Joe Pepler
David Connolly, left, believes Jed Wallace is at the right club to develop his game Picture: Joe Pepler

In David Connolly’s eyes, canny Adam Lallana handled his blossoming Southampton future with the perfection of a defence-splitting pass.

Now the veteran striker wants Jed Wallace to follow suit and ignore any promises of immediate fame and fortune.

The possibility of the Blues losing their promising 19-year-old remains an ongoing concern this summer.

Recognition with England’s under-19s enhanced a reputation which has already attracted plenty of scouts and prompted several bids last term.

The scenario takes Connolly back to his Saints days when Lallana caught the eye during their successful promotion to the Championship.

The home-grown youngster had already been part of the St Mary’s side relegated to League One and remained to become an ever-present in that successful 2009-10 campaign, scoring 20 goals in all competitions.

Promotion to the Premier League followed, where Saints survived last season and with Lallana still at the heart of the team.

Patience paid off for the 25-year-old midfielder – and Connolly has urged Wallace to consider the same path.

He said: ‘With some young players, you keep their feet on the ground and keep them on the right road. All the trappings of doing well with football.

‘Jed has acquitted himself very well in League One and I am sure feels he can do it at that level or another level but you need consistency in football.

‘He could be part of this era of this club and rise through the leagues. Adam Lallana did that when I was at Southampton. There were lots of people coming to watch him at times in League One.

‘I remember one person saying “I don’t think he is good enough” and he was from a Championship club! I thought: “You are off your rocker!”.

‘The same with Rickie Lambert – and they are both acquitting themselves in the Premier League.

‘So you don’t always have to go chasing, it will come to you as well.

‘Lallana is a home-town boy from the local area and Jed can be that, too, by playing regularly (at Pompey) and seeing where it takes him. He is moving in the right direction but what can happen to a lot of young players is maybe they move, don’t play as regularly and lose their way a bit.

‘I think Jed is at the right place to play regularly and to build his game because you do need to build your game in league football, in men’s football, every week.

‘There are promising signs.’

Last year was Wallace’s breakthrough season at Fratton Park, barging his way into the first-team in January.

The midfielder went on to make 23 appearances and scored six goals as he effortlessly found his feet.

He is now regarded as hot property and Connolly can understand why.

‘Jed played really well,’ he said.

‘I think I can rely on him to normally choose the right ball or make the right choice in the right situation and put good crosses into the box which you can finish from.

‘That is important and when he gets an opportunity he will score as well, so it is really good news he is still contracted with the team next year.

‘He’s very willing, has got good natural attributes and we have to keep him here if at all possible.

‘Dan Butler is another young one who is keen and wants to improve.’