WANDERERS are looking to Premier League Southampton for inspiration with life in League One looking increasingly likely.

While Jimmy Phillips would dearly love to mastermind the greatest of escapes from the Championship bottom three for his home-town club, the smart money is on them rebuilding next season in the third tier.

Wanderers are 11 points from safety with nine games to play and have won just four times all season.

After Neil Lennon’s departure this week, the appointment of academy boss Phillips provided a big hint as to which direction the club may look to go in the future.

Southampton spent two seasons in League One, starting in 2009, which included a first domestic cup since 1976.

Among the youngsters launched into the first team at that point were Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and young loanee Michail Antonio – all of whom have now gone on to carve top-flight careers.

Phillips isn’t making grandiose statements about finding the next Gareth Bale in his academy but he feels that by trusting in the club’s youth system a cost-effective base can be formed to rebuild its fortunes.

“When you look at the model of some clubs who have been in the Premier League and then found themselves at the foot of the Championship, or even lower than that, there are examples where they have used the youth players as the building blocks to bounce back,” he said.

“I think it’s a model we’re fully aware of as a club and if the academy can produce more players for the first team then that can only help the club as a whole.

“One of the biggest issues surrounding academy football at the moment is giving players league experience.

“Obviously a lot of the big Premier League clubs are looking to loan their younger players out to League One or League Two but depending on where we find ourselves next season we could be in the position where they can play in our own first team – they don’t need to go out elsewhere. They don’t need to go outside the club walls to gain experience or develop.

“We have got some good young players and the timing does need to be right when we give them the opportunity. They do need to be at the top of their game in order to rise to the challenge of playing at the higher level but it’s a model I am confident we can follow in the future.”

Wanderers will move out of their first team training base at Euxton completely by Easter Monday and will use the academy base at Lostock for next season on.

The Macron Stadium may double as a training venue until some adjustments have been made on the academy site but Phillips is content it will more than serve purpose.

As a home-grown talent who cut his teeth in professional football in the old Third Division under John McGovern, Phillips can tell the modern group of players a thing or two about having to make do and mend.

“I think it was 1984 when I made my debut,” he told The Bolton News. “John McGovern was having to run marathons and get sponsorship to keep the place going and then signing all his players from the non-leagues. In fairness, some of them were good.

“I know we’ve just sold Euxton but we’ve got a training facility at Lostock with seven or eight really good pitches and a couple of artificial surfaces.

“When I came into the first team at Bolton and had a hundred or so games under my belt we were training on primary school pitches, the middle of the dog track, the little five-a-side pitch behind the Burnden stand – anywhere that would have us.

“The facilities now are still very, very good and I’m sure the first team staff and players will enjoy training there.”