Bale is shining example to young stars - Adkins
Southampton boss Nigel Adkins thinks Gareth Bale is the perfect role model for the club's new batch of up-and-coming stars.
Bale returns to St Mary's Stadium on Sunday for the first time since he left the south-coast club for Tottenham as a left-back, having just graduated from the club's famed academy, which also produced the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Alan Shearer.
The 23-year-old has added bags of strength, power and skill to his game since moving to White Hart Lane and he is now considered one of the most devastating attacking players in the world.
Yet, despite his rise to stardom, Bale is also regarded as one of the most grounded players in the Tottenham squad.
James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw are just two of the players who have recently made the step up from academy to first team, and Adkins thinks the duo could learn a lot from how Bale has handled himself throughout his career.
"He is a very professional player," the Southampton manager said.
"He looks after his lifestyle and he is reaping the rewards for doing that.
"He is a shining example of how professional you need to be to be successful at the top level."
Bale will return to Spurs' starting line-up on Sunday having missed their last two games following the birth of his first child.
And, judging by the team's lack of penetration in their defeat to Chelsea and loss at Maribor, the Londoners will welcome back the wide man with open arms.
Before his absence Bale had started to rediscover the kind of form that terrorised Inter Milan at White Hart Lane two years ago.
Adkins is aware of Bale's talents, but he insists his men cannot afford to concentrate solely on shackling the winger.
"Every player in the opposition is a threat," Adkins said. "To concentrate on one player means you neglect the others."
Southampton will again be without record signing Gaston Ramirez as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.
Defender Frazer Richardson (groin) and midfielder Jack Cork (knee) are both out, but Tadanari Lee has recovered from his elbow injury and could feature.
Young defender Luke Shaw has overcome his illness and may make his Barclays Premier League debut.
Jan Vertonghen hopes injuries do not prevent Tottenham getting back to winning ways.
Spurs have suffered an unfortunate number of blows already this season as they juggle domestic and European commitments.
Scott Parker has yet to feature this term due to an Achilles injury, while Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto have been out since sustaining injuries early in the campaign.
That trio are still a way off returning, although manager Andre Villas-Boas is likely to be able to welcome back Mousa Dembele and Emmanuel Adebayor for Sunday's trip to the south coast.
Bale is also in line to feature against his former club - a welcome boost for a Spurs side that suffered a disappointing 4-2 home defeat to Chelsea in their last Premier League outing.
"I think the Chelsea game was just one incident," Vertonghen said. "We missed so many players and I hope a few can come back against Southampton.
"It has been an unlucky season for us with all those injuries and I am looking forward to playing with our best team very soon because we can be so strong.
"The Chelsea game was just unlucky. We made a couple of wrong choices.
"We're very confident for the rest of the Premier League. Southampton are next and they really want to play good football.
"They believe in their own philosophy and I think we have done better in the away games until now so hopefully we can carry that on Sunday."
If Tottenham are to get a result at St Mary`s, there will need to be a vast improvement from their Europa League display in Slovenia in midweek.
Gylfi Sigurdsson's second-half goal earned the north Londoners a 1-1 draw at NK Maribor, who took the lead late in the first half through Robert Beric.
Tottenham have drawn all three of their Group J fixtures so far and sit just two points shy of leaders Lazio and one point off Maribor.
"We came for a win so it is frustrating," Vertonghen said. "We hoped to play better but the group is still open so we have hope. We have two good home games to come so we're still very confident of making the next round.
"I think if we win these next home games we're in pole position to make it to the next round.
"We have played Lazio at home and the best two home games are to come so the group is very confident."