CONTRACT discussions between Saints and academy starlet Kegs Chauke are ongoing but those close have confidence a deal can be struck, the Daily Echo understands.

An agreement hinges on certain assurances being made to 19-year-old midfielder Chauke, who seeks to start making his first steps in senior football.

Should Chauke sign a new deal with Saints, it looks likely he will go out on loan to experience men’s football – something those close to him want to see actioned.

Promising youngster Chauke, whose current deal with Saints expires at the end of June, became involved regularly with the first-team last season.

He made the Premier League substitutes bench on 10 occasions and was awarded a full debut by Ralph Hasenhuttl in the FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury.

Younger players see Saints as one of the best opportunities to play first-team football, but that has not happened this season with only 17-year-old Thierry Small getting any minutes.

While Chauke did make the bench at Swansea and versus Brentford, Hasenhuttl increased the size of his first-team squad with potential impacts of COVID testing and injuries in mind.

That is why a loan move elsewhere currently looks the best option to safeguard Chauke’s career, and that could come either abroad or with a Championship/top League One side.

Loan manager Danny Butterfield works hard to find opportunities for the Saints youngsters. The current dialogue with the club is to assure this opportunity, if a new deal is signed.

The impending departure of Saints head of recruitment, Martyn Glover, to Leicester City has meant some conversations have had to happen again, with other academy staff now taking on those reigns.

Chauke, who had reported interest from Manchester City earlier this campaign, did not join the academy system until under-15s – relatively late, in comparison to most.

The next step for Chauke is finding the best possible solution with Saints, with some kind of first-team opportunity at the core.

Daily Echo:

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