“Tottenham lost Bale, they are one of the top clubs in England but they lost him to one of the top clubs in the world – that happens.” Palace themselves are still embroiled in the Barclays Premier League relegation battle and welcome Southampton to Selhurst Park on Saturday with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool still to visit south London. The Eagles also face a number of other sides in the survival battle as trips to Sunderland, Cardiff and Fulham loom on the horizon. “We know how tough this run is for us,” conceded Pulis. “We have got it as tough as anybody in the bottom 10 but we will get our heads down and work as hard as we can. “There are 10 or 11 teams still fighting for their lives and we are ahead of the game in a lot of respects because we are still in with a chance and nobody gave us that chance a short time ago. “It is very difficult to stop the players looking at things. You can get so confused and uptight and lose a lot of energy worrying about things you can’t affect.” Pulis could be without Marouane Chamakh after t he striker injured a hamstring in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Swansea. Kagisho Dikgacoi did not travel for international duty with South Africa but Pulis is hopeful he can play some part against Saints. Southampton manager Pochettino believes Shaw’s England debut has given Roy Hodgson a “very big problem” when it comes to selecting his World Cup squad. The highly-rated 18-year-old was handed his senior debut in Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly defeat of Denmark at Wembley, just 16 months on from making his Premier League bow. Shaw replaced boyhood idol Ashley Cole at half-time and slotted in seamlessly at left-back, providing Hodgson with a pleasant selection headache when it comes to choosing his squad for Brazil. Leighton Baines’ place is all but assured, so it looks to be a straight fight between Shaw and experienced Chelsea defender Cole for the other left-back berth. “I think Roy Hodgson has a very big problem on his hands,” Pochettino said of England’s selection dilemma. “I don’t know what is going through Roy’s mind at the moment regarding Luke Shaw but in light of the 45 minutes he played he showed he deserves to be in the team and has the quality to be in the team. “I thought it was an amazing moment for him, for Southampton Football Club in general and especially for all the managers and directors he’s had in the academy. “To see a child from 10 years old to making his international debut has to be a moment of great satisfaction and of great pride.” Shaw was one of 18 Southampton players on international duty this week – a proud moment for Pochettino only tempered by the negative impact it could have on Saturday’s trip to Palace. “I always enjoy watching my players when they play for their national sides,” he said. “It was really great to see Luke’s England debut, and Adam (Lallana) made a good contribution in the second half. “I was very pleased with their performances on Wednesday, but it’s always a difficult moment when you have a lot of players away. “Overall, when you include the Under-21s, Under-19s and Under-17s, we had 18 players out of the club so it’s good to have them back and to be able to welcome them into the squad. “All of the players that have been away on international duty might have a little bit of fatigue, especially those who have travelled long distances like Maya Yoshida and Victor Wanyama, who have just got back. “Of course there are some minor problems that we need to assess with certain players, especially those who have been away.” Press Association Tony Pulis believes Southampton have solved the puzzle of bringing through academy players – but warned that tempting offers from other clubs could still see that homegrown talent fly the nest. “They have done it consistently for a long time,” he said. “They haven’t just stumbled over it. They have the jigsaw sorted out and all the pieces are in the right place, we don’t do that a lot in this country. “I know a little about the club and there are people who have been there for years and years. They have a good scouting set-up and the people who work there, even before you become a professional, are very good lads. “They don’t worry about just the technical side of it, they look at attitude, commitment and responsibility. Most of the lads who have come out of that club are not only good players, they are good lads.” Other players to have come through the ranks at Southampton include talent such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Bale moved on to Tottenham before a massive-money move to Real Madrid, while England pair Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are making their mark at Arsenal. Shaw has been constantly linked with a summer move to Chelsea or Manchester United and Pulis admits it is hard for Southampton to keep hold of all of their talent. “I think they accept that,” he said. Southampton have drawn the plaudits for their attractive football under Mauricio Pochettino and the backbone of the Argentinian’s side are products of Saints’ youth academy. Calum Chambers, James Ward-Prowse, Adam Lallana, Sam Gallagher and England’s latest cap Luke Shaw have all played some part for Southampton this season and Palace boss Pulis is not at all surprised.
USC had what many pundits consider the best offense in the history of college football in 2005. There were two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield and a pair of dynamic wide receivers. Two tailbacks ran for more than 1,300 yards apiece. The offensive line was experienced and the offensive attack was as balanced as it was prolific. That team averaged nearly 50 points per game. Even the week before the 2006 BCS national title game, ESPN ran a weeklong series comparing the Trojans’ offensive unit to some of the best in the history of the sport.Man in charge · Senior quarterback Matt Barkley returns to lead an offense that averaged 35.8 points per game in 2011. Barkley threw a conference record 39 touchdowns and completed 69.1 percent of his passes. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanFast forward to 2012, and the expectation for many around Los Angeles is this: USC might have as good an offense, if not better, than what fans saw seven seasons ago.Leading the USC offense will be its aerial assault, and the leader of that charge will be senior quarterback Matt Barkley. Last year, Barkley had one of the best seasons in conference history, throwing for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. He set a school single season record for completion percentage at 69.1 percent.Though Barkley’s success is largely because of his own ability, the overall success of the passing game will depend on his receivers: junior Robert Woods and sophomore Marqise Lee. While Lee is at full strength, Woods has a lingering ankle injury that has limited his practice time and forced him to sit out for all of spring practice.Woods set a conference record for catches in 2011 with 111, totaling 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns, being named a first team All-American in the process. Woods’ high school teammate Lee had 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns during his freshman season.But if Woods is not healthy, the situation behind the two Biletnikoff Award candidates is rather murky. With no established third receiver, several young players will be competing for playing time, including sophomore George Farmer and incoming freshman Nelson Agholor.“He’s constantly banged up,” Woods said of Farmer, who was the top receiver recruit in the country coming out of high school.If healthy, though, Woods believes Farmer can play a key role for the Trojans.The other question mark for the passing game is the left tackle position. Gone is All-American Matt Kalil, who was the No. 4 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Taking his place will be sophomore Aundrey Walker, standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 300 pounds who is slated to start at left tackle and to protect Barkley’s blind side. He has lost roughly 70 pounds since last season and is preparing himself for the rigors of the left side and of replacing a star.“Everything’s been good,” Walker said. “Practice, the last practice has been great. Just losing the weight, I feel great. I don’t know what it is, but when I was 360 [pounds], it really didn’t work; I was too slow off the ball.”This is no longer a problem, though, and Walker is excited for the possibilities. He is confident that the offense is right on track and sees a lot of potential with the group.“[The] offense is doing pretty good. We got a great group of guys [starting],” Walker said. “[There is] a lot of chemistry throughout the whole team.”The passing game was an obvious strength last season, as the Trojans averaged more than 294 yards per game, good for 15th in the country.For the 2012 Trojans to reach the heights of the 2005 team, however, the running game will have to hold up its end of the deal and must complement the passing game.Last season, the Trojans ran for 162.6 yards per game, which ranked near the middle of the pack in the college football world. Returning is senior tailback Curtis McNeal, who ran for 1,005 yards. Joining him is Penn State transfer Silas Redd.McNeal said he expects this offensive unit to put up some big numbers this season.“It could be really good,” McNeal said. “We just got to go out there everyday and get our game plan that the coaches make for us, and we just got to make plays.”He knows that the running back competition is going to make for a better unit overall.“It’s been good,” McNeal said. “All the running backs, we’re just out here competing, making each other better … and just providing the best running game that we can for the team.”McNeal believes that the work the team put in during the offseason is going to make this edition of the Trojans better than the one fans saw last year, perhaps making the comparisons to the Leinart-led Trojans not too far off.“A lot of players have just stepped up, basically the whole team just stepped up and we worked our butts off in the offseason so we can perform at our peak every game,” McNeal said. “That’s the attitude that we have, and we’re pushing it everyday.”