SAINTS B team have learned their full Premier League 2 2021-22 fixture list as they look to bounce back from a relegation season that Ralph Hasenhuttl said was “very disappointing, to be honest.”

The young Saints now compete in Division 2 and will host Norwich on Sunday August 15, before four back-to-back away games including an EFL Trophy clash with Leyton Orient.

Dave Horseman’s B team will not be in action between December 17 and January 9, and will end their season in May with a trip to Newcastle on Monday April 25 and home tie against Sunderland on Sunday May 1.

The side finished bottom of Division One last season after losing all of their last five games, but the squad was heavily depleted due to youngsters taking part in first team squads due to the injury crisis.

The likes of Will Ferry, Caleb Watts, Ryan Finnigan, Kegs Chuake and more were all required to make up first team numbers at periods, reducing the quality at Horseman’s disposal in Premier League 2.

First-team manager Hasenhuttl was quizzed on the B team’s progress and relegation at the end of last season, and admitted: “Very disappointing, to be honest. We had the problem that a lot of them couldn’t play there all the time because they were with, because we had no players.

“The issue we carried with us also had an impact on them. We need to transfer more players in this academy because we know the issue we have with the youth. It is getting more and more difficult to be honest to bring players through the academies.

“As soon as they are really good, the bigger teams are grabbing them, and that starts when they are 14 years old. Once you have a big talent, it’s getting harder and harder to keep them with your club.

“I don’t know where they are all going then, because not a lot of them reach the highest level.

“And then the problem is you have to buy them back for massive money (in the future). The chance to develop your own youth quality is getting more and more difficult. This is a little frustrating sometimes for a club like us, but this is the fact and you have to take it.”

The B team is seen by Saints as an integral part of teaching a consistent philosophy, or playbook, throughout the upper reaches of the academy.

Both the B team and the under-18s set out to play the same way and same style as the first team, with the idea that this will prepare them for senior action and they’ll slot right into the tactics when called upon.

Eight youngsters aged 20 or younger featured in the Premier League for Saints last season, with the likes of Nathan Tella holding down a first-team squad spot for a lot of the campaign.

Hasenhuttl added on the playbook: “I’m sure that it won’t give us the benefit after a year. This is a topic for a long-term development, which is why we’ve just started with the under-23s.

“You normally start it at the under-12s, but we know what direction we want to go in. Then you can hope a few players make it in the first team.

“I think Nathan Tella is a very good example because he is the guy who showed the biggest development (last season). Some others didn’t do it.

“If you can deliver one player every year, then that is more than you can normally expect and much more than a lot of other Premier League clubs will do.”

Full Saints B 2021-22 fixtures:

Aug 15 Norwich City (h)

Aug 23 Nottingham Forest (a)

Aug 29 Middlesbrough (a)

Sep 10 Fulham (a)

Sep 14 Leyton Orient (a) – EFL Trophy

Sep 19 Burnley (h)

Sep 27 Birmingham City (a)

Oct 1 Stoke City (h)

Oct 5 Charlton Athletic (a) – EFL Trophy

Oct 18 Wolves (a)

Oct 25 Reading (a)

Oct 31 Aston Villa (h)

Nov 5 Newcastle United (h)

Nov 9 Crawley Town (a) – EFL Trophy

Nov 21 Sunderland (a)

Nov 28 West Brom (h)

Dec 6 Stoke City (a)

Dec 17 Norwich City (a)

Jan 9 Wolves (h)

Jan 16 Fulham (h)

Jan 23 Middlesbrough (h)

Feb 7 West Brom (a)

Feb 20 Birmingham City (h)

Feb 27 Nottingham Forest (h)

Mar 11 Aston Villa (a)

Mar 20 Reading (h)

Apr 4 Burnley (a)

Apr 25 Newcastle United (a)

May 1 Sunderland (h)

*Fixtures subject to change*