England new boy Luke Shaw is ready to pass his World Cup audition against “world-class” Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, according to Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Saints host Liverpool at St Mary's in Barclays Premier League action on Saturday aiming to shrug off a disappointing 3-1 defeat at West Ham.
Teenage left-back Shaw could have his hands full with goal machine Suarez, should the Uruguay star maraud down the right flank as he has in recent weeks for the Reds.
However, Pochettino is confident the 18-year-old, who this week won his first senior England call-up for next week's friendly against Denmark, can cope with the in-form striker in a precursor to a possible World Cup showdown - with Roy Hodgson's men facing Uruguay in Brazil this summer.
"Liverpool play in a system where Suarez could appear on the right, so in that case he would be facing Luke Shaw," said former Argentina defender Pochettino.
"In that case we'll see if he has a chance to defend against him.
"I think we're talking about Southampton against Liverpool, not individuals.
"But if Luke Shaw has been called up to the English national side, it's because he is considered able to go well against any player.
"And that means he is respected and trusted enough to go up against the likes of Suarez, and he certainly is at this club.
"Luke is fully prepared mentally for this, he's grown and matured a lot in the last year.
"It will help him grow in the future, playing with the best this country has to offer and being managed by a great manager in Roy Hodgson.
"He has great maturity, intelligence, the full support of his own family and the Southampton family too.
"If anything should happen and he should come back in a different way, his family is right behind him to make sure there are no consequences."
Pochettino believes only a flawless defensive game will allow Southampton the chance of victory against the high-flying Reds.
The former Espanyol boss challenged his players to starve Liverpool of possession in a bid to limit the visitors' goalscoring opportunities.
"We must try to keep possession against Liverpool, not let them create any, or at least very few, chances," he said.
"It's clear that we're facing one of the best strikers (Suarez), not just in England, but in the world, in my opinion.
"But it's not just him: (Philippe) Coutinho, (Daniel) Sturridge, (Raheem) Sterling and others, they are all very much quality players.
"And it's clear we'll need a perfect game without the ball, to stop them creating chances, to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.
"They are one of the main candidates to win the league, but the most consistent side in there will be the one to come out victorious."