HARRY REDKNAPP pulled the plug on Chris Baird's deadline day move to Watford - to ensure long-serving Jason Dodd could leave Saints for the first time in 16 years.

Baird's agent, Gary Williams, revealed that the Northern Ireland international defender was all set to join the Championship side on loan until the end of the season after turning down Sheffield United and Stoke.

"Chris was ready to go to Watford but Harry Redknapp phoned me late on Wednesday and told me to stop the move," confirmed Williams.

"He said he needed Chris because Jason Dodd was going to Plymouth.

"Harry said he has been really impressed with Chris, and I've also spoken to Jim Smith this week who said similar things.

"They both told me that Chris has a future at Southampton."

Baird, pictured, lines up against England in tomorrow's World Cup qualifier at Old Trafford having not played a single minute for Saints' first team this season.

He spent loan periods with Watford and Walsall last season before signing a new two-year contract last summer.

"I am sure that many lesser players than Chris would have thrown in the towel by now," Williams added, "but he is desperate to do well for Southampton.

"He knows he is good enough to play in the Premiership and I know that one day he will be a regular in the Southampton side.

"What Harry and Jim said to me was good news for Chris and good news for me.

"I'm told he was unlucky not to be in the squad for Middlesbrough last weekend."

Meanwhile, as Baird was preparing to face Beckham, Rooney, Owen and co tomorrow, 34-year-old Dodd was getting accustomed to new surroundings for the first time since March 1989.

"It is a new challenge for me - that's why I am coming down," said Dodd, whose move to Argyle was revealed in the first edition of yesterday's Echo.

"I went to see Harry Redknapp (pictured) as I had not been back in the Saints side after struggling with a bad back two or three months ago.

"He said he wanted me around in the dressing room but after knuckling down in training I went to see him again.

"It is hard work training for a match and not getting involved and he said I could go out on loan, which was what I wanted.

"To be fair, the gaffer was brilliant with me and sounded out clubs to let me come on loan.

"Bobby (Williamson) got in touch with me and the call only lasted a few minutes. I jumped at the chance to come down."

Argyle beat off competition from fellow Championship strugglers Brighton to land Dodd, who has made 399 league appearances for Saints.

"I had given Bobby my word I was coming down so there was no contact with them," Dodd said. "I'm really looking forward to it. I am getting a few butterflies, which I probably haven't had since signing for Saints all those years ago."

Argyle boss Bobby Williamson said: "I am very pleased to get a player of his experience.

"He will really offer us something. He is a good character in the dressing room and is a good organiser."

Dodd, whose Saints contract expires at the end of this season, has joined on an initial month loan with a view to extending it until the end of the Championship season.

However, he could still return for Saints' final game of the season on May 15 at St Mary's against Manchester United.