SAINTS beat off competition from Championship clubs and League One high fliers to sign the exciting Jason Puncheon, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Saints splashed out about £200,000 to sign the versatile 23-year-old, right, on a three-and-a-half year contract.

In the current economic climate, that was more than higher division clubs were willing to spend on a player who has never really proved himself in the second tier.

Alan Pardew faces a selection headache with regards to where he can fit Puncheon into his side at Exeter City this weekend.

But former Saints striker Gordon Watson insists the player can operate in a variety of roles.

“I’ve seen Puncheon a lot playing for MK Dons and he’s one of the best players in the league,”

said Watson.

“He’s definitely one of those that could play at the next level up.

“If he can produce what he’s capable of then he can be anything he wants to be.”

Watson, currently a scout with ex-Saints boss Nigel Pearson at Leicester, added: “He’s got the lot – he’s pacy, he’s tricky, he can use both feet, he can cross with both feet.

“I’ve seen him play wide left, wide right and down through the middle.

“I’ve seen him play in the hole and I’ve seen him as a holding midfielder.

“I have seen Saints several times this season and one thing they have lacked is real pace.

“Puncheon provides this. I know there were Championship clubs looking at him.

“Also Norwich and Charlton were interested."

See today's Daily Echo for more of Gordon Watson assessment of Jason Puncheon

Daily Echo: See today's paper for more on this story