AFC TOTTON did not stand in the way of youngster Josh Jeffries joining Saints this week – in fact, the Southern League side set the move in motion!

16-year-old Jeffries signed full-time terms with the club he has supported all of his life, after two local non-league clubs played a part in his development.

A member of Eastleigh’s Elite Development Squad, the shotstopper was given a first taste of senior football with AFC Totton earlier this season. Dual-registered between the two Hampshire sides, Jeffries also featured for the Stags’ under-18s.

Goalkeeper Jeffries will also continue his involvement at Snows Stadium directly with the Stags, on a work-experience basis.

The Stags, who enjoy strong links with Saints thanks to the fact they host the Premier League club’s B team and women’s sides at their Snows Stadium, alerted Saints to the potential Jeffries possessed.

Jeffries told Ben Rochey-Adams and AFC Totton’s website about the move and how it came about.

“It’s been surreal – after joining Totton, the directors and management decided to put my name forward to Southampton.

“I played in a game against West Brom at Staplewood and trained with the first team, including some sessions with Willy Caballero which was a great experience.”

After a taste of the first team in his month-long trial, Jeffries is keen to go and one day play for his boyhood club – but the young goalkeeper remains grounded after a whirlwind rise.

“It would be a dream to play for the Southampton first team, but my ambition is to progress and play professionally at the highest level I possibly can.”

“Coming to Totton provided me with the spotlight to get noticed by Saints, so I’m grateful for everything the people at this club have done for me.”

The departure of Jeffries marks a pattern for the Southern League Division One South club, who are currently aiming to earn promotion from England’s eighth tier via the playoffs.

In recent months Jordan Ngalo departed the club to link up with ex-boss Mark Molesley at Aldershot.

Daily Echo: Jordan Ngalo has risen back up the pyramid after impressing at Totton (Pic: Craig Hobbs / AFC Totton)Jordan Ngalo has risen back up the pyramid after impressing at Totton (Pic: Craig Hobbs / AFC Totton)

Ngalo, who like Jeffries, did not come through the ranks at a professional academy, had played under Molesley at Weymouth, before dropping down three tiers to join Totton at the start of the summer.

Whilst Ngalo’s departure may eventually prove to be financially beneficial for the Stags, with a potential sell-on fee and friendlies scheduled with the Shots, the main ethos is to ensure that the club will not stand in the way of players looking to rise up the ranks.

Speaking about the club’s ambitions and approach, Director of Football Sam Davies said: “While we aim to take this football club forward in its own right, we have to run it sustainably.

“Nurturing young talent and helping players who have come down the football pyramid to find their way back up the divisions is also fundamental to what we’re about, as part of our strategy for longer-term progression.

“We’re delighted to help young players like Jordan and Josh make their way in the game and we wish them every success.”