SAINTS striker Manolo Gabbiadini has been banned from driving after he was caught texting behind the wheel on the M27.

Gabbiadini was spotted by police texting for 'up to 10 seconds' in his £89,000 Mercedes-Benz while in the second lane at junction three.

The 26-year-old, who already had nine points on his licence for three separate speeding offences last year, did not turn up for Monday's hearing as he is 'on a pre-booked holiday' in Italy.

However, magistrates' excused the international football star and agreed to proceed without him.

A court heard that because of EU law, Gabbiadini's ban, which starts immediately, will also apply in Italy and he will not be allowed to drive while there on his holiday or he will be committing a further offence.

Aldershot Magistrates' Court heard a police officer pulled alongside the car on November 1 during the morning rush hour when he was seen holding his mobile in his right hand 'using the keypad'.

The Italian admitted one count of using a mobile phone whilst driving.

The striker, who has 11 international caps for Italy, had admitted the offence at an earlier hearing, however magistrates had requested he attend as they needed to consider disqualifying him.

Nicola Davies, representing Gabbiadini, said the case had been 'hanging' over the Premier League star's head since he was stopped in November.

Miss Davies told the court: "There is no exceptional hardship in this case, the only mitigating circumstance is the offence happened on November 1.

"This is months later for a hearing and he has had this hanging over his head since then."

When asked if she had a way of communicating her client's driving ban to him so he does not further break the law while in Italy, Miss Davies said she did and would advise him.

Magistrates' disqualified Gabbiadini from driving for six months, starting immediately, as well as fining him £1,000 and ordering he pay £185 costs.