SAINTS signing Nathan Wood admitted he has kept in touch with former boss Russell Martin "in a personal way" before reuniting at St Mary's.

The 22 year old centre-back completed a £3million move to the Premier League on Friday, joining from Championship outfit Swansea City.

Boss Martin signed the defender to the Swans from Middlesbrough in 2022, having attempted to bring him to MK Dons earlier in his career.

Wood insists Martin's belief gives him confidence ahead of stepping up to the Premier League for the first time. 

He said: "We have always kept in touch, since he left, in a personal way really because we got on quite well.

Nathan Wood has penned a four-year deal at SaintsNathan Wood has penned a four-year deal at Saints (Image: Southampton FC)

"We had a good relationship so we kept in touch throughout the past year, so when the phone call came and they wanted me to come it was easy.

"It's massive for any player when you know you have got someone who believes in you, will give you a chance and improve you as a person and player.

"That was a big thing at Swansea, I was moving away for the first time away from home and I had to get used to living five hours away from home.

"I improved on the pitch in that 40 games but it was more off the pitch that was the big difference - it was down to him.

"It was a great group of lads at Swansea but I think that filtered down from the way the manager set standards and the environment."

Wood continued: "It's the best type of football to play, I enjoyed it the most I have in that one season at Swansea with the gaffer.

"It's enjoyable to watch and enjoyable to play. I am looking forward to seeing how it goes in the Premier League. I think it's going to be exciting."

Wood boasts 71 appearances in the Championship, making a handful for hometown Boro while still regularly playing under-21s football.

He played 26 times last season - missing some of the mid-season due to a back injury - but displayed his best football under Martin.

Saints failed in a transfer bid for Nathan Wood last summerSaints failed in a transfer bid for Nathan Wood last summer (Image: PA)

Looking ahead to the season, Wood said: "Every player wants to play in the best league in the world, against the best players, and I think that speaks for itself.

"It's a challenge no matter who you are playing against and that is the motivation you need, that's why I play football." 

Wood is also an England under-21 international and partners Saints teammate Taylor Harwood-Bellis, who captains the side, for the Young Lions. 

Wood insisted: "It definitely helps, to come into an environment with people I already know. I know a few of the lads and a lot of the staff.

"Hopefully, I settle in quicker than I would if I was going somewhere else. I am looking forward to getting fit in pre-season.

"The rewards are massive when you put the work in. I want to hit the ground running and give it my best shot. 

"I think implementing the way we want to play is a big thing, the manager is not going to change the way he is and we want to put our mark on the league.

"Staying in the league is a massive thing and for me personally, I just want to improve as always and enjoy it - those are the main focuses."