SAINTS attacker Stuart Armstrong joked that the club’s youthful rebuild this summer has made him ‘feel old’ after his goal helped propel his side to their first victory of pre-season against Monaco.

After a pair of 0-0 draws with Austrian side Klagenfurt and Watford, Saints went into half-time 1-0 down to the Ligue 1 side, but goals from Adam Armstrong, Stuart Armstrong, and James Ward-Prowse saw them emerge with a very impressive 3-1 victory.

With six new signings through the door so far this summer, it’s understandably taking time for the squad to gel - particularly considering the age and experience of those brought in.

Earlier this week striker Sekou Mara arrived from Bordeaux, the 19-year-old becoming Saints' fourth new signing who is 20 years old or younger alongside Romeo Lavia (18), Armel Bella-Kotchap (20), and Gavin Bazunu (20). Only Joe Aribo at 26 years old has any sort of significant top-level experience. 

“They’re very young, they make me feel old!” Armstrong told the Daily Echo. “But you can see the quality is there and some have already come in with experience as well which helps. 

“You can see the quality they have and they’ll add to our strength in depth and you can tell from the last few games that they’ve settled in really quickly to the group and if they can learn from the older boys and give energy too for us, they’ll be some great additions.”

The focus on potential rather than experience has made the role of 30-year-old Armstrong that much more important.

“I remember when I was younger, the older players in the first team, it went a long way if they spoke to you, if they chatted with you, if they were positive towards you. 

“So as much as you want to be serious with the young players so they know what to expect when the Premier League starts, I think thinking back I really benefitted from the positivity from the older players, from the arm around the shoulder, so if you can find the balance of having those demands of them but also being a bit of a friend to them as well I think that works best.”

Coming on as a second-half substitute at St Mary’s on Wednesday evening, Armstrong gave Saints the lead with just under 15 minutes to go, turning and firing into the top corner from 12 yards out.

“It was a lovely pass from Joe (Aribo_, I thought he was going to cross it, really composed pass into the middle - I wasn’t really expecting it but it came lovely and just a quick turn and shot and I’m very happy to see it.”

The well-taken effort was the Scottish international’s first goal of a pre-season campaign that has seen him play wide in midfield and more recently up front as a second striker.

“I like it,” he said of the more advanced position. “It’s quite free and the manager lets me play off the front, whoever is playing up top in that role, I like the freedom it gives you in attacking positions, you naturally end up in attacking positions, you find yourself in the box. So I’m actually an attacking player now and I’m really enjoying it.”

Saints now face Villarreal in their final pre-season friendly before traveling to Tottenham Hotspur on August 6 for the first game of the Premier League campaign.

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