JASON Puncheon will join Millwall in a surprise loan move until January.
The midfielder has fallen out of favour at Saints and is switching to the Lions this week.
Puncheon is understood to be targeting Saturday’s Championship trip to Middlesbrough for his Millwall debut.
The 24-year-old was given permission yesterday by Saints boss Nigel Adkins to speak to the London side, who are on the lookout for attack-minded players before the loan window closes next week.
Croydon-born Puncheon will arrive at the New Den with a view to a permanent move if all goes well.
The winger has lost his place in the Saints side in recent weeks to teenage star Alex Chamberlain.
Puncheon has been an unused substitute in two of the last three matches – and wasn’t even in the squad for the 2-0 FA Cup win over Shrewsbury.
The last time he started a game was in the 3-1 victory at Notts County last month.
On that occasion, Puncheon was hauled off for Richard Chaplow in the 69th minute.
Barring any last minute hitches, that looks like it could be the last time he pulls on a Saints shirt.
Puncheon signed for the club in January on an undisclosed fee, thought to be about £250,000, from Plymouth.
He started 19 league games under Alan Pardew last season, scoring three times.
However, Puncheon has struggled with his form on occasions during the current campaign and, in 17 appearances, he has failed to find the net.
The emergence of 17-year-old Chamberlain has also come at the wrong time for him.
Adkins has been using the lightning-fast winger more and more – and for good reason.
Chamberlain, son of former England wideman Mark, has already netted five times this season.
And four of those goals have come in Saints’ last five matches.
Puncheon started his career as a youngster at Wimbledon and was part of the club when it was dragged kicking and screaming to Milton Keynes.
After struggling to come to terms with that move, Puncheon joined Barnet, where manager Paul Fairclough helped get his career back on track.
That led to a transfer to Plymouth in 2008, for a £250,000 fee.
Things didn’t work out well at Home Park, but an extended loan spell back at MK Dons under then manager Paul Ince helped reignite his form.
That proved enough for Pardew to decide to bring him into St Mary’s at the end of the January transfer window.
But Puncheon’s stay at St Mary’s now looks as if it will end up lasting less than a year.