WILL Smallbone reckons his experience with Saints Under-23s will help him deal with playing in empty stadiums.

Saints’ Premier League campaign will resume against Norwich this evening in an empty Carrow Road due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

And Smallbone revealed the club have been training at St Mary’s to get them accustomed to playing behind closed doors.

“We’ve trained at the stadium but for me, having come from the Under-23s, I’m used to playing without supporters,” the midfielder told the Daily Echo.

“But some of the older guys wouldn’t have done it for ages, so it’s going to be about getting used to the feeling of having no fans.

“It shouldn’t bother any of us because it’s still a football game at the end of the day.

“It’s going to be the exact same situation for all of us, it’s just a shame the fans won’t be there to watch it.”

Although Smallbone says Saints will be doing all they can to get themselves in the right mindset ahead of tonight’s match, he still thinks it’s hard to prepare for the unknown.

There will be myriad protocols in place to ensure social distancing can be maintained off the pitch, something footballers haven’t had to worry about before.

“I don’t think anyone can really prepare for that game because it’s going to be a weird situation regardless,” added Smallbone, who last week signed a new four-year deal.

“But if we can go out there and be the best prepared that we can be then that gives us a good chance of getting three points early on.

“If we can get as many points as we can early on then we’ll be able to distance ourselves from the relegation zone.

“To not have any lingering worries about that would be great for us.”

After penning his new long-term Saints contract, the 20-year-old midfielder is desperate to be included in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s starting XI tonight.

The academy lad managed to force his way into Hasenhuttl’s Premier League plans in February, just before coronavirus led to football being brought to a halt.

And he hopes to use the remaining nine games to show the Austrian why it was worth giving a new four-year deal.

“I want to be starting at Norwich, so I can push on,” Smallbone added.

“But the next nine games, for me, are all about showing what I can do and force my way into the starting XI.”