RALPH Hasenhuttl revealed Saints are "in negotiations" to extend Theo Walcott's stay at Saints.

The 32-year-old made a fairytale return to his boyhood club in October, signing on a season-long loan deal from Everton.

It is understood Walcott's contract at the Toffees is set to expire this summer, making him available on a free transfer.

Asked if he was interested in keeping Walcott at Saints beyond this season, boss Hasenhuttl said: "We are in negotiations with the agent and with him.

"I am sure not only this player, but we will have next season a very, very balanced and mentally strong side, for sure."

Walcott, who came through Saints' academy before leaving to join Arsenal in 2006, has played 17 times since returning to the St Mary's club, netting two goals.

He made his comeback from a two-month hamstring lay-off to start in Sunday's 3-2 win over Burnley, providing the assist for Nathan Redmond's winning strike.

"It’s not a secret that I was very happy with him as long as he’s here now because he did a fantastic job," said Hasenhuttl of Walcott.

"We missed him definitely when he was injured. I like a lot of things on this player.

"Not only his workload, also his mentality, his attitude, his professionalism.

"This is something every team needs to have. It’s a player every manager likes to work with, because he was positive always and very, very open-minded for new things and in the end never stopped getting better."

Speaking to the Daily Echo over the weekend, when asked whether he had thought about his future, Walcott said: “To be quite frankly honest, I have just been looking forward to getting fit. Simple as that.

“That thing will sort itself out, I am sure.

“I am just looking after myself and working hard playing for Southampton at this moment in time.

“We will see what the future takes.”