SAINTS youngster Jack Stephens returns to Swindon Town tonight – and the hosts don’t want him to go back to Hampshire after the game!
The 20-year-old Cornishman was included in Ronald Koeman’s squad that played two pre-season friendlies in Holland and Belgium last week.
Stephens signed for Saints from Plymouth Argyle more than three years ago, but has yet to make a league appearance for the club.
He spent a successful loan spell with Swindon last season, appearing in the Wiltshire club’s last ten League One matches.
The Robins won six of those games and only conceded eight goals, with boss Mark Cooper – son of former Saints European scout Terry – keen to bring Stephens back on another loan spell.
Cooper has suggested a rather unique way of making sure Stephens pulls on a Swindon shirt again.
“I wouldn’t have thought there’ll be anything by the time we play them. Obviously I’ll try to lock him (Stephens) in the office on Monday night and keep him in there until the team coach leaves,” he said.
“The sooner (we sign players) the better because there’s only three weeks until the season starts.”
Swindon have only signed one player this summer so far, Anton Rodgers. The son of Liverpool boss Brendan, he was released by Oldham at the end of last season, having rarely featured for the Latics in League 1.
Rodgers made his Swindon debut in last Thursday’s 2-0 friendly loss at Eastleigh.
The game formed part of the Robins’ four-day trip to the south coast, where Cooper booked them into the West Sussex army camp in Thorney Island for some intense pre-season training.
After tonight’s friendly, Koeman’s squad travel to AFC Bournemouth this coming Friday before another trip along the south coast to Brighton on July 31.
Saints’ final friendly is home to German Bundlesliga club Bayer Leverkusen at St Mary’s on Saturday, August 9.