RYAN Bertrand will have to stay patient if hopes to secure a new Saints deal.

That’s the view of Ralph Hasenhuttl, who also said the left-back has been his most consistent defender this season.

Bertrand has under a year remaining on his current St Mary’s contract which has gone under the radar due to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s expiring deal grabbing the headlines.

The 30-year-old is one of the club’s longest-serving players, having initially joined on loan from Chelsea in 2014 before making the move permanent.

Asked by the Daily Echo about a possible new contract for Bertrand, Hasenhuttl said: “I think we know that he is a fantastic left back and he still has targets to be an international for England because he is playing fantastic at the moment.

“He absolutely has the potential to do this and we will help him come to this position.

“As always, we have to see that he is not the youngest one and know that the older players have to wait to extend their contracts like we did with Longy.

“It must be a good mixture in the team and a little bit of experience is absolutely necessary, especially when you have an experienced player who is open-minded and willing to learn.

“I think Ryan showed that he is the perfect example of how quickly you can adapt to this and learn new things.

“He has enough space for new things and I am not surprised that an older player can learn this.

“I think he likes the way we play; being brave and showing we can compete with the big teams.

“This is why he is maybe the most consistent defender we have this season.”

Although the ball is in Saints’ court to offer Bertrand a new deal, Hasenhuttl’s well aware that his expiring contract could alert other sides.

This, he says, is just the nature of the beast and it’s a situation the club will have to live with due to their size.

The Austrian added that it wouldn’t matter if a player was on a five-year deal because once the big sides start circling it’s almost impossible to keep hold of them.

“I’m always scared that players playing well in our team are interesting for others,”

Saints’ boss added. “But this is our situation we have to live with. It’s normal for us. We are a developing club. We develop players who are young, but we also develop players who are a little bit older.

“If they then outperform and another club comes and says ‘He’s interesting for us’, then we cannot stop them going.

“The players know what they have with us. If a big club comes and wants to sign them, even if he has a (long) contract we have no chance to compete with them.

“But that’s not a problem. This is part of the business. 

“Sure, it would be a step back when someone has an offer from somebody else and wants to leave. 

“But we are not that far I think, and we know we have to finish the season first and then we will have a look at what happens.”

Bertrand's previously told the Daily Echo that he hopes to become a director of football once he hangs his boots up.

And Hasenhuttl believes the defender can achieve anything he sets his mind to.

He added: “I think he has a big knowledge about football. He has a lot of experience from his entire career. He’s smart.

“For me, in the moment it is more important that he concentrates on his real job which is being good on the pitch.

“But he was always very critical with what happens around him and not so easy to convince this guy.

“If you have him on your side and see he sticks to your plan and he’s convinced about what you’re doing, then he’s an absolutely positive boost for everything."