NATHAN Tella admits being handed a first start for Saints came as a “bit of a surprise”, adding: “I’m just grateful to the manager that he trusted me.”

The winger, 21, made his second appearance for Saints on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup contest with Brentford at St Mary’s.

Tella’s only other appearance for the first team came as a late sub in the 3-0 Premier League win over Norwich City in June.

But Tella had a much more prominent role against Brentford, making his full debut and playing for 84 minutes before being substituted.

And while Saints fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Bees, it was still a special night for the former Arsenal youngster.

He told the Daily Echo: “On an individual note I’m happy that I got my first start for the club.

“It’s something I’ve been working towards since I joined the club and I’m happy that it came on Wednesday.

“But as a team we’re disappointed because it’s not a result we wanted. We wanted to push on in the cup and the fact we’re out so early is disappointing.

“But we’ve just got to react and get ready for the game on Sunday (against Tottenham).”

Ralph Hasenhuttl named a strong side to face Brentford, with the only change to the 11 that lined up against Crystal Palace in the Premier League at the weekend being Tella in place of Will Smallbone.

Asked when he discovered he would be making his first start for Saints, Tella continued: “I found out on Tuesday in training. We were doing shape work and they just said that I was on the starting XI for the team.

“So it was a bit of a surprise and shock for me, but you’ve just got to always be ready for your opportunity.

“The fact that it came on Wednesday, I’m just grateful to the manager that he trusted me to play me.

“Obviously the result is disappointing but on a personal note I’m very happy that I was able to play.”

And Tella hopes he entertained his friends and family watching, albeit from home with no fans currently allowed in St Mary’s due to coronavirus restrictions.

“Obviously I know they would’ve wanted to watch me,” he said.

“I think they might’ve got the EFL stream, but I’m definitely going to be speaking to all my family and friends.”

He added: “I know they’re happy for me and I hope I did well for them and they’re happy and proud of me.”