Saints opened up their pre-season campaign with a 3-3 draw against Schalke in China.

Mark Hughes played two different teams in the first and second halves as he started to ease his stars back into action in front of a sparse crowd in Kunshan.

The first half team was a more familiar looking line-up and got in at the break level at 1-1.

The second half side included a makeshift defence and the match ended with honours even.

Nathan Redmond, Harrison Reed and Jake Hesketh were the Saints scorers.

The match against the Bundesliga side provided a Saints debut for £7m summer signing Stuart Armstrong, who almost made a dream start only to see his shot saved after just seven minutes.

Saints were behind on 21 minutes as Ievgenli Konoplyanka cut in and hit a low shot from the edge of the area which took a big deflection off of Jack Stephens and gave Alex McCarthy no chance.

McCarthy made a good save before Saints levelled things up in first half stoppage time.

Redmond fed the ball into Charlie Austin with his back to goal on the edge of the area, the striker showed good strength to hold it up and turn it round the corner for Redmond to collect before finishing low past the keeper.

It was all change at the break with a particularly unfamiliar looking back four, but it didn’t stop Saints proving competitive.

They took the lead three minutes after the restart with Jordy Clasie finding Harrison Reed with a magnificent lofted pass.

Reed cut in from the right and left a defender on the floor with remarkable ease and showed composure to pick his spot through the keeper’s legs.

The advantage lasted just six minutes, however, as Suat Serdar was given time to pick his spot from 20 yards and buried a shot into the bottom corner past second half keeper Fraser Forster.

Saints weren’t done there though and got their noses back in front on 68 minutes.

It was another goal via a significant deflection, this time from a low drive from just outside the area by Jake Hesketh.

Schalke had the final word in spectacular fashion as they equalised six minutes from time with Steven Skrzybski hitting an unstoppable shot from 25 yards that flew into the top corner.

Saints now return to the training ground for a few days before their second and final fixture in China when they take on Jiangsu Suning next Wednesday.

Saints first half: McCarthy, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand, Targett, Hojbjerg, Lemina, Armstrong, Redmond, Long, Austin.

Saints second half: Forster, Valery, Clasie, Romeu, McQueen, Reed, Ward-Prowse, Sims, Hesketh (Slattery 90), Gabbiadini, Gallagher.