NIGEL Adkins confirmed Saints’ interest in Blackpool winger Matt Phillips – but insisted the club have not made an illegal approach for the player.

Seasiders boss Ian Holloway claimed that a Premier League side had tapped up the 21-year-old, with a report at the weekend naming Saints as that team.

Adkins admitted they had been in contact with Blackpool about Phillips, but was adamant they had acted responsibly.

“It’s a shame that Blackpool have had to go and do things via the media in the way that they have done,” he told the club’s website.

“I don’t think there is any hiding from the fact that Matt is a player that we have been an admirer of for the past few years, and in the last couple of weeks he has probably been identified as a target for a number of teams in the Premier League.

“I know that from the chairman’s point of view he has been in contact with the Blackpool chairman and that we have had a conversation with their chief executiv.

“I have spoken to Ian Holloway myself, so it’s not as if there has not been an interest demonstrated from Southampton .

“As I have said, we like to think that we do everything properly, by the book, and we will continue to do our matters privately and behind the scenes.

“Obviously, this situation has now arisen and we will take action on that and respond in the appropriate manner.”

Holloway had earlier claimed: “Somebody has made an illegal approach and we can prove that.”

When it came to matters on the pitch, Adkins said he was happy with what he saw in Saturday night’s friendly against Udinese, despite Saints suffering a 4-0 defeat.

“We didn’t want to be on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline, but I don’t think it was a 4-0 game, because it was cracking,” he said.

“Until they scored their first goal we were well and truly in the ascendancy.”

Adkins added: “We have taken a lot from this game, which is positive.

“It was the final game of preseason and we have worked all the way through the campaign in a 4-3-3, implementing and improving different things.”