SAINTS boss Russell Martin admitted he "felt sick" after leaving Sekou Mara out of the squad for the Championship playoff final.

The Frenchman watched on from the stands as Southampton clinched promotion to the Premier League with a 1-0 victory against Leeds United.

Adam Armstrong's 24th-minute strike, which was his 24th league goal of the season, proved to be the difference on Sunday.

Mara had started the first leg of their playoff semi-final against West Brom, which ended 0-0 at the Hawthorns.

"I just feel bad for the guys that didn't get on and I feel really sick for Sekou for having to leave him out this morning," Martin told the Daily Echo.

Daily Echo: Sekou Mara celebrated with his Saints teammates at St Mary'sSekou Mara celebrated with his Saints teammates at St Mary's (Image: Habibur Rahman)

"Wrestling with that decision for 48 hours really is the worst part of the job. I felt sick about that, but he's in there celebrating with the guys and that means a lot.

"Unfortunately, It is part and parcel of the job."

Mara, 21, played 29 Championship games for Southampton during his second season at the club.

He scored three times in the league while also bagging three in the FA Cup, including a brace against Watford in February.