WINCHESTER City manager Craig Davis believes Saints starlet Callum Slattery will enjoy a breakthrough season this year.

Slattery did not play for Saints after making his full Premier League debut in the 1-1 draw at Burnley in February.

He and Hesketh, who has not played in the Premier League since making his debut at Burnley in December 2014, were among those that were left out of the first-team squad that travelled to Austria last week.

But Davis was very impressed with what he saw from the pair during his side’s 2-2 draw against Saints U23s at Staplewood on Saturday.

The Southern League outfit twice took the lead against their full-time opponents, but Slattery’s performance in particular made a big impression.

He said: “We played their U23s side and Slattery and Hesketh were both excellent.

“Their movement and the way they found space in tight areas and drove with the ball really stood out.

“The big difference between players at our level and the pros is decision making and they showed that.

“My players can pass the ball well but it’s about knowing the right time and to who, when to clear the ball and when to run with it.

“They way they play is very simple but the movement they make before playing the right pass is the big difference."

Hesketh spent most of last season in League One and League Two with Burton Albion and MK Dons respectively.

Davis reckons Slattery is ready for a similar experience, potentially at a Championship club like Harrison Reed at Blackburn Rovers last season, if not the Saints first team itself.

“Hesketh played the full game in a front three, while Slattery played most of the game in central midfield and stood out the most because he’s very strong physically as well as having the technique,” continued the Winchester boss.

“He’s in very good shape, a lot stronger than he was when we played against Saints in the Southampton Senior Cup 18 months ago.

“He dropped deep and ran the game in a box-to-box role.

“I’ll be very surprised if he’s not playing for the first team or playing at a very good level on loan at another club this year. He’s that good.

“He’s definitely one that will get time somewhere else, if he’s not playing in the Premier League.”

Rob Flooks and Jamie Barron scored City’s goals against a Saints side that hit the bar before scoring their second equaliser.

Saints fan Davis added: “It was a very enjoyable day, we were really well looked after.

“They didn’t have as much of the ball as we expected, we dictated a fair chunk of it.

“We’re a footballing team so it tested us and we deservedly went ahead with Rob’s header from a free kick.

“It was fairly nip and tuck but they equalised just before the break.

“We started the second half really brightly and could have scored before a sublime chip from Jamie inside the far post.

“It was a really good test for us, they weren’t shy to put in a tackle.

“It was quite a physical tussle and they scored a deserved second equaliser in what was a very competitive game.

“We’re really grateful to Southampton for giving us that experience, they treated us with a lot of respect.”

City continue their preparations for the new season at Hamworthy United tonight and at Bracknell Town on Saturday, before hosting Havant & Waterlooville at the Denplan City ground next Tuesday.