Southampton and Brighton are among a number of Premier League clubs chasing Exeter City rising star Jack Veale, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.
The 18-year-old prospect is the latest starlet off the production line of the League Two club’s famed youth set-up.
A recruitment source has told Football Insider that Southampton and Brighton are leading the hunt for Veale ahead of the January window.
The attacker is firmly on their radar after talent spotters saw him score twice for Exeter Under-18s in their FA Youth Cup win over Bournemouth on Wednesday.
In a measure of Veale’s promise and status at his club, he captained the age-group side.
The teenager has yet to make his first-team debut at Exeter, who are third in League One and pushing hard for promotion.
But he is catching the eye of coaches at his own club as well as those from other teams who have long been impressed by the talent produced at the Devon outfit.
Watkins is the most notable graduate of the Exeter youth set-up.
The Aston Villa striker made his name at the club during 78 appearances that yielded 26 goals and 17 assists.
That earned him a 2017 transfer to Championship club Brentford for £2million, where he did so well that Villa paid an initial £27m for him this summer.
Southampton and Brighton both have good track records in identifying and nurturing top young talent.
Their managers Ralph Hasenhuttl and Graham Potter are renowned for developing rising stars into established ones.