LINCOLN City boss Michael Appleton revealed Saints have "shown an interest for a while" in teenager Sean Roughan, taking him on trial earlier this month.

The 17-year-old is understood to have featured in some matches for Saints' younger age groups in recent weeks, allowing them to take a closer look at the defender.

Roughan, who signed his first professional contract with the Imps last summer, has featured 11 times for the first team this season and is now back with the club ahead of the League One play-offs.

However, the Irishman's most recent outing for the club came in December.

Discussing Roughan's time at Saints, as reported by Lincolnshire Live, boss Appleton said: “It was an opportunity for them to have a look at Sean. They’ve shown an interest for a while now.

“We were more than happy for that to happen. He’s our player until someone makes an offer, it’s as simple as that.

“As it stands, at this moment in time, he’s a young player and we just want to make sure that he’s got the right pathway.

“If that’s with us, for me, he has to be playing. At this moment in time he’s not doing that.

“I want to improve the team and make it better than what it is at the minute. As he’s not in the team at the minute, it’s a bit of a balancing act.

“If his pathway is away from Lincoln and it’s the right thing for the club, we’ve had those honest conversations with him.

“At the minute, he’s back with us until we get a conversation going with Southampton.”

He added: “As long as we’re open and transparent with each other, whether it’s Sean, his agent, the club, the board of directors, we’re quite relaxed about it.

“What we won’t want to do is send him here, there and everywhere. If there’s a genuine interest, there might be an opportunity for him.

“If we feel it’s someone chancing their arm because they’ve seen him at Southampton, it just won’t happen.

“He’s had a couple of games for them, he’s trained for a few days and he’s enjoyed it down there.”