FORMER Saints defender Maya Yoshida admitted it feels "amazing" that Saints have allowed him to return to train with the club.

The Japanese centre-back, who is contracted to LA Galaxy until the end of the 2024 season, is training at Staplewood following the end of the MLS season.

The Los Angeles side missed out on the MLS play-offs after finishing 13th in the Western Conference, which has seen him return to the south coast to keep up his fitness up.

Speaking to Southampton's official club media, Yoshida, 35, said: "The season finished already in America and I have a long holiday, so at my age, it’s difficult if I stop for a long time.

"So, I need to keep my fitness and I asked the club if I could join a couple of sessions and that’s why I am here."

Yoshida spent eight years at the club between 2012 and 2020, playing 194 matches for Saints over that time.

He initially left the club to join Sampdoria on loan in January 2020, before he made his move permanent at the beginning of the 2020-21 Serie A season.

Yoshida continued: "I really appreciate it first of all and I think it’s not usual. I really appreciate what they have done for me and it’s a strange feeling as well.

"After I left the club, I have never seen someone come back and train like this, so I really appreciate it and I really feel amazing."

Yoshida departed the Italian club in 2022 to join Schalke in the Bundesliga and he then moved to LA Galaxy a year later.

The MLS regular season usually runs from late February to October so Yoshida has a few months before he is back in action.