SAINTS have appointed David Hughes as their head of academy player development.

Hughes becomes the first person to fill this role and opted to leave his position as Aston Villa's Under-18s coach to join the south coast side.

The Welshman started his playing career at the newly promoted Villa before going on to make seven appearances for them.

After a year on loan at Carlisle, Hughes joined Shrewsbury Town in order to become a first team regular but found himself signing for Cardiff after just two seasons.

An injury at 26 brought his career to a premature end and prompted him to enter coaching.

He returned to Shrewsbury in 2009 to oversee their youth development before moving on to Watford in 2011.

This is where he forged a relationship with Saints' director of football operations, Ross Wilson.

Wilson and Hughes worked together at the Hornets, only for Wilson to join Saints and the latest academy appointment to head back to Aston Villa in 2016.

However, three years after returning back to the Midlands, he has taken a new role at Staplewood.

Hughes will report directly to Andy Hale, Saints' new academy director and his role will see him specifically focusing on player development on a one-to-one basis.

The appointment comes on the back of a major overhaul of the club's backroom staff and will see Hughes work with Edd Vahid, who has become the academy manager.