MANAGER Ralph Hasenhuttl has explained his decision to play Theo Walcott over Moussa Djenepo in the 2-2 draw with Burnley on Saturday, and insists it’s nothing to do with adding experience to a youthful side.

The visitors have named the oldest average starting XI age in the Premier League so far this season (29 years), while only Arsenal and Brentford have a younger average team than Saints (25y 301d).

That’s typified by the Saints defence’s average age of 22.5 years on Saturday, as well as the likes of Armando Broja, 20, and Ibrahima Diallo, 22, playing key roles throughout the team.

Djenepo started the counter-attack that led to Broja’s winner against Leeds but spent a lot of time on the ground, something that would likely have been repeated against the robust Burnley outfit – with Hasenhuttl favouring 32-year-old Walcott.

The winger, who was industrious when appearing from the bench in last weekend's victory, was unable to truly impress the supporters inside St Mary’s before he was replaced on the 74th minute by Stuart Armstrong, Saints’ first change of the contest.

“Theo is a player who goes in behind, goes deep, goes in the box and spreads the runs in behind,” Hasenhuttl explained, after the match. “So this is what I was expecting from him.”

And asked directly if the difference in experience on the pitch contributed to the management of the game, that saw a winnable affair slip from their grasp, Hasenhuttl added: “No.

"We had today Theo Walcott on the pitch, also a very important player, so we have played with an even younger team (against Leeds) and experience is for me not the most decisive factor in a Premier League game.

“In a Premier League game you need to have quality on the pitch for 90 minutes, knowing what to do and that’s more important than experience for me.

“Tino (Livramento) is playing his eighth Premier League game now and you’d think he is playing there for a long time now and this is because he has the quality.”