SAINTS will play their first domestic pre-season fixture this afternoon.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have travelled to Preston’s Deepdale Stadium to continue their preparations for the upcoming Premier League campaign.

The St Mary’s outfit have spent the last week at Staplewood, having been in Austria before that.

Their pre-season fixtures started with a 1-1 draw against SCR Altach where new striker Che Adams netted after just two minutes.

But today’s encounter with the Championship side will be their first domestic match this summer.

Alex Neil, who has managed Norwich in the Premier League, will be keen to pit himself against Saints’ boss, especially with their season just two weeks away.

Hasenhuttl will have a full squad to pick from except from Moussa Djenepo and Sofiane Boufal who are recovering from the Africa Cup of Nations.

However, it’s expected that want-away players Charlie Austin, Mario Lemina, Guido Carrillo and Jordy Clasie won’t travel with the team.

Although Preston are a level down from the Premier League, Saints will be battling a side who have already played four times this summer.

The Lilywhites have also announced they will play fellow top-flight outfit Newcastle United next weekend – Steve Bruce’s first game in charge of the Magpies on English soil.

Neil has strengthened his team over the summer, with former Portsmouth striker David Nugent re-joining them this week, along with Patrick Bauer.

Upon his return, speaking to the club’s website, Nugent made it clear that he is ready to boost the club’s chances of making the Premier League.

He said: “I might be 34, but I still have plenty of running in my legs. I might have to prove that on the pitch if selected by the manager.

“I have not just come here to take anyone’s place in the team, I have come to be part of a team and help the lads achieve what they want to achieve.

“It’s a young bunch who are hungry to get to the premier league. Hopefully the likes of Gally [Paul Gallagher], myself some of the older pros, can help the young lads through it.

“We know with the squad that we’ve got we’ve got every chance of challenging in this league and hopefully we can do it this year.”

Following the Preston match, Hasenhuttl and up to six first team players will head to China, where they will play against Guangzhou 23 July.