SAINTS have signed highly-rated teenager Luke Pearce on a scholarship deal from Walsall.

The striker trained regularly with the Saddlers first-team squad last season and was named on the bench for their EFL Trophy clash with Chelsea under-21s in December, aged just 15.

Pearce has now linked up with Saints' academy after Walsall confirmed the two clubs "reached a compensation agreement".

Speaking to the Saints website, the 16-year-old said: "Most kids dream of getting to this point in their career and coming to a Category One club with facilities like this.

“A couple of years ago if you would have told me I’d be here I wouldn’t have believed you, but you can achieve anything with hard work. I knuckled down and here I am.

"It’s a dream and an honour to be here. I feel I will fit in well here.”

Academy director Matt Hale added: “We are very pleased to welcome Luke to the club. As well as bringing our own players through and developing them from a very early age, we have also developed a strong recruitment policy to supplement this work, with the aim of bringing some of the top young talent from the UK and Europe into our academy.

“Luke is someone who falls into this category. He is a very promising young striker and we feel with the coaching and support we can offer him that he will be able to maximise his potential with the club.”