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Chance to impress for frozen out Saints players

Chance to impress for frozen out Saints players

Lee Barnard

Ryan Dickson in action for Saints

Jonathan Forte

Matt Oakley celebrates scoring for Saints in the Premier League against Norwich

First published in Sport

SAINTS are set to send a young side to Exeter tonight – but will give a few of their fringe players another chance to impress.

With the first team having been away in France, and now preparing to face Ajax at St Mary’s on Saturday, most of the big guns will be left back in Southampton , rather than travelling to the west country for a game that is part of the deal that brought Dan Seaborne to St Mary’s in January 2010.

Exeter are billing the game as being against a Saints XI and are expecting predominantly youngsters to make the trip.

It is likely that the side sent to Exeter will be similar to that which went to local non-league clubs Winchester City and Sholing under the banner of the under-21s.

That means another chance to impress for second year academy scholar Sam McQueen, who scored twice in both games against Winchester and Sholing.

Those teams featured some of Saints’ rising stars of the future, alongside senior faces in the shape of Lee Barnard , Ryan Dickson and Jonathan Forte .

That trio appear to be struggling to make the cut for the club’s 25-man Premier League squad, having not gone on the tour of France.

But friendlies such as tonight’s at League 2 Exeter give them another chance to impress Nigel Adkins , or – potentially more likely – put themselves in the shop window for moves.

Exeter will be treating the game as a first team friendly and have started preseason well with three wins from three, albeit against non-league opposition in Guernsey, Dorchester Town and FC United.

Paul Tisdale’s side are unlikely to field former England goalkeeper David James, who is currently training with them, but there is a chance that ex- Saints midfielder Matt Oakley could be included in their side.

Oakley has yet to commit to becoming an Exeter player following his release from Leicester this summer.

But the 34-year-old, who made more than 250 appearances for Saints, is sought after by the Grecians who are keen to convince him to sign after an impressive loan spell last autumn.

Tisdale said: “I have left a spot in our squad and a particular role in the team, and a role in the club for him.

“He has had a week’s training now and hopefully, in a week’s time, we will tie that up. But I am not looking for anyone else as I really want Matt to be here.

“He made such a big contribution last year for the brief time he was here, and I want him to make that contribution for the full year this time.”

  • Kick-off at St James Park is 7.45pm.

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