RALPH Hasenhuttl remains confident Alex Jankewitz can play to a "very high level", despite the youngster's limited match minutes for Saints last season.

The teenager made his senior Saints debut in January, coming off the bench in a 2-0 FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town at St Mary's.

His Premier League bow followed a few days later against Aston Villa, before being handed a first top-flight start in February.

However, it turned into a nightmare evening for Jankewitz, sent off after just two minutes against Manchester United at Old Trafford for a horror challenge on Scott McTominay.

Saints went on to lose 9-0 and Jankewitz has not played for the first team since.

The 19-year-old received sickening racist abuse online following that incident, with team-mate Kayne Ramsay taking to Instagram to show his support for the youngster.

He wrote: "Comments directed at my teammate Alex is inexcusable.

"Faceless person/s behind a screen, they’re just ignorant with nothing but an agenda to make the hurt even more painful.

"Why break a guy down, with all the hate, when he already feels broken?

"However, does that give another person the right to abuse another person because he is black!?

"Why direct such hate, when there is so much upset and turmoil in the world. No-one needs negative energy, you can’t direct all this hate to a player who has made a mistake.

"Why not send some good vibes and positive thoughts, to build the guy back up, he’s a human being, a black human being, with feelings and emotions, no different to mine and yours.

"I’m a young black man, just like Alex.

"He got a red card, his timing was all wrong, he’s truly gutted, disappointed in himself."

Since that defeat at Old Trafford, Jankewitz has impressed on the international stage with Switzerland under-21s. He played in all three group games at the European U21 Championship and his season drew to a close at the weekend, featuring for the full 90 minutes as the Swiss beat Republic of Ireland under-21s 2-0 in a friendly.

And Hasenhuttl has urged the midfielder to be ready for whenever his chance with Saints arises again.

Discussing Jankewitz's progress, the Saints boss said: "The (full) debut against Man United was definitely not really helpful for him.

"I think he made a mistake, but he knows this.

"In the end, we see the quality that he has. We see that he can maybe one time play also on a very high level, but like always there is now big competition in this position.

"We have Stuey (Armstrong) now back on the six, Ibra (Diallo) is there and Ori (Romeu) comes back, it is not so easy to get a chance there to play. But when there is a moment to give him a chance to play, then we will definitely do it.

"When he trains hard and when he is available and gets the chance, then he must show up."

Saints academy director Matt Hale added: "It is great to see Alex on the international stage.

“He has made so much progress since he joined us when he was 16 and this experience (with Switzerland) will provide him with great confidence.”