FRANCIS Benali hailed the importance to Saints of "very key" midfielder Stuart Armstrong, believing his performances often slip under the radar in the same way as former fans' favourite Steven Davis.

Armstrong, who is gearing up to represent Scotland at Euro 2020 next week, was one of Saints' stand-out performers last season.

The former Celtic ace scored five goals and provided six assists across 38 appearances, featuring in various positions for the team.

Armstrong finished second behind James Ward-Prowse in the Daily Echo Saints Player of the Season vote, and also claimed the club's President's Choice Award, chosen by Terry Paine.

Asked if any Saints players caught his eye last season, legend Benali told the Daily Echo: "I think there’s been good performers at various stages of the season. Danny (Ings) quite obviously is a threat and his goals are key to our success.

"James Ward-Prowse, his consistency, his energy, his leadership now as a captain and the example he sets is great to see. But it’s just nice to see some of the youngsters coming in and showing glimpses of what they’re capable of as well.

"There’s very good players there. I like what I see of the squad, I just would like us to be performing better and winning more games in the league."

He added: "Just going back to key players, somebody that’s just sprung in my mind, who I think is very key to quite often how we perform and play, is Stuart Armstrong.

"A little bit like Steven Davis I feel in some ways, he would not necessarily be grabbing the headlines, but is just so underrated and undervalued by certain people at times.

"But the contribution that players like he makes is quite often unnoticed but unmeasurable at times with the work that they do."

Northern Ireland international Davis, 36, spent six-and-a-half years at Saints between 2012 and 2019.

He played 226 times during his time at the Hampshire club, scoring 14 goals.

Davis now plies his trade at Rangers, and recently helped the club clinch their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade.