SAINTS boss Russell Martin insisted forward Kamaldeen Sulemana deserved his start in Friday's 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough for the "way he has trained".

Kamaldeen, who replaced Welshman David Brooks in the starting line-up, played 63 minutes for the hosts and showed flashes of potential during the game.

His cross from the left-hand side led to Jonny Howson's error, which Adam Armstrong pounced upon to fire in his 19th goal in the Championship this season.

Ryan Fraser replaced the 22 year old after the hour mark but Martin praised the club-record signing while highlighting there are still areas to improve.

He claimed: "He trained really well. He deserved to play. He did some really good stuff and did some stuff that he needs to improve on but he hasn’t played for a long time. 

Daily Echo: Saints boss Russell Martin spoke to press after the matchSaints boss Russell Martin spoke to press after the match (Image: Stuart Martin)

"I’m pleased he was out there and did the things that he did. There are some really brilliant bits in there."

The Saints boss is not short on options in the wide areas with Kamaldeen competing for a starting berth with Fraser, Brooks, and Samuel Edozie.

Goalscorer Armstrong looks set to continue playing on the wing with Che Adams leading the line through the middle. 

The former Swansea City manager hopes Friday's performance will help the Ghanaian speedster going forward.

He added: "The way he’s trained over the last month or two has been outstanding. So hopefully today will be good for him moving forward."

Saints have nine games scheduled in the final month of the season - with potential play-off games added to the calendar too if the club are unable to leapfrog the top two.

Martin's side travel to promotion rivals Ipswich Town on Easter Monday where they have a golden opportunity to narrow the gap at the top.