MATT Crocker has been named as Saints’ new director of football operations – but won’t start his role until early 2020.

Crocker previously worked for the club as their academy manager back in 2006 and spent seven years in the job.

This saw him oversee all aspects of Saints’ youth setup, such as player development and coaching.

Players like Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Ward-Prowse all passed through the academy when Crocker was in charge.

He left the St Mary’s outfit to go and work for The FA as their head of development, ensuring there was a pathway from the Under-15s to the Under-20s and has been there for six years.

Crocker was tipped by many to become The FA’s new technical director, only for former Saints vice-chairman Les Reed to be given that role.

Although Crocker will be working under the same title as Saints’ former director of football operations, Ross Wilson, his role will be more like Reed’s.

The club have been on the hunt for someone to help assist manager Ralph Hasenhuttl since Wilson left to join Rangers in October.

Crocker will oversee the day-to-day operations of Saints and help develop the St Mary's side in all departments.

It was reported previously reported by the Daily Echo that the club were looking to appoint a player trading expert in place of Wilson.

They recently employed Martyn Glover as head of recruitment and there is still the desire to take on someone else to help with that side of things.

In a statement released by Saints, chief executive Martin Semmens said: “The Southampton Way is at the very core of everything we do here at the club, with a strong focus on our player pathway into the First Team. 

“Matt was the outstanding candidate in Europe for this role, head and shoulders above anyone else, as he brings deep experience and knowledge to the club, but also a history with The Southampton Way. 

 “As Head of Development Teams at The FA, Matt was responsible for elite player and coach pathways through all teams and was one of the key architects of the England DNA project. 

“This created a framework and culture that has led to the success we see today through all age groups with the national team. 

“This experience and knowledge will help our club develop further our excellent track record in player and coach development and give us the best opportunity.”