Portsmouth have swooped to sign former Saints defender Martin Cranie.

The 20-year-old was out of contract this summer and turned a new deal offered by George Burley in pursuit of regular first team football.

There were a host of Championship clubs interested in the youngster, who was spotted and developed by Rod Ruddick at the Bath academy.

But the lure of Premiership football was too much for Cranie who has swapped St Mary's for Fratton Park and a three year deal.

Pompey will have to pay Saints a fee for his services which is likely to be decided at a tribunal. However, it is unlikely to be that much.

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp, who worked with Cranie during his time at Saints, said: ''Martin is a very promising young player who has the ability to go right to the very top of the game.

''He has bags of talent and is a great addition to the squad.'' Cranie added: ''This is a great opportunity for me to progress as a player.

''Portsmouth are a very ambitious club both on and off the field and I want to be part of their future success.'' Redknapp has already signed Sulley Muntari, Sylvain Distin and Hermann Hreidarsson this summer.

Cranie is the first Saints player to move to Portsmouth since defender Scott Hiley made the short switch in December 1999.Since then, Nigel Quashie, Ricardo Fuller and Jhon Viafara have moved from Fratton Park to Saints.