SAINTS have struck up a new partnership with non-league neighbours Eastleigh.

Starting with the visit of Newcastle United on Monday, December 17 (7pm), Saints will be playing some of their Barclays Under-21 Premier League fixtures at Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium home in Stoneham Lane.

Additionally, the two clubs’ youth programmes will share ideas on how to develop local youth football.

Eastleigh boss Richard Hill said: “This is a positive move for the club and says a lot about Eastleigh and where we are going that Southampton approached us.

“We have a Premier League club on our doorstep and it is imperative we have strong links and be in pole position when any mutually beneficial opportunities arise in the future.

“Likewise we want to have close links with as many local clubs as possible.”

Les Reed, executive director of Saints’ Football Development & Support Centre, hailed Saints’ new agreement with the Blue Square Bet South promotion hopefuls.

“This is a great opportunity for our two clubs to form a relationship which benefits football in and around the Southampton community,” he said.

Saints’ under-21s are battling for a place in the Elite Group Stage of the Professional Development League and will play more home games at the Silverlake after Christmas.

They currently play in one of three National Groups which consists of the 22 teams who applied for Category One status under the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan.

Competitions rules state that teams can name three over-age outfield players plus an over-age goalkeeper in any match day squads. The likes of Artur Boruc, Danny Butterfield, Tadanari Lee, Ryan Dickson and Jonathan Forte have already featured.