RISING star Jake Vokins revealed how it had been “surreal” to work alongside fellow full-back Ryan Bertrand – having previously cleaned his boots!

Vokins on Tuesday penned a fresh four-year contract at Saints having come through the youth system at the St Mary’s side’s academy.

The 20-year-old made three first-team appearances for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men this season, which included 90 minutes in the 1-1 Premier League home draw with Brighton last month.

And while he wants to make a name for himself in his own right, Vokins admits it is key to learn from England international Bertrand, who has made more than 200 appearances for Saints and today celebrates his 31st birthday.

Vokins told the Saints website: “Learning from the more experienced players in the squad and training with them day in, day out, has helped me improve my game and develop as a player.

“He (Bertrand) has definitely helped me a lot.

“We chat during training, and after training he’s giving me tips on what I can do to be the best full-back I can.

“I was cleaning his boots and now I’m training alongside him every day, so it’s a bit surreal!”

Vokins was scouted by Saints when he was just six. His fresh deal until 2024 will take him past 15 years of being involved with the club.

Capped by England at under-17 and under-19 level, the Oxford-born defender is now eager for more game time under manager Hasenhuttl.

The youngster added: “When he came into the club, he brought his own philosophy of how he wanted to play, so it’s about me learning and understanding what he wants from me as a player to develop.

“I definitely want to make more appearances and prove that the manager can trust me.

“I have to take the opportunities that I hopefully get from him and keep working hard.”