JOSEPH Mills’ future is in limbo after he was left out of Saints’ squad for their tour to Switzerland.

The 21-year-old left-sided player spent the majority of last season on loan at Doncaster and has been linked with a move away from St Mary’s this summer, with Preston the current frontrunners for his signature.

While the rest of Nigel Adkins’ squad were playing their first pre-season game overseas at FC Biel-Bienne, Mills was making a second-half substitute appearance for Preston in their 4-0 win over Fleetwood Town.

Mills is trying to impress North End boss Phil Brown with it becoming increasingly clear that his future lies away from Saints.

Adkins, pictured left, has taken Ryan Dickson, Dan Harding and youngster Ben Reeves to Switzerland ahead of Mills who was left back at base as the rest of the squad headed on their tour, which culminates with a match against FC St Gallen tomorrow.

Mills, who can play anywhere down the left side, only has a year left to run on his current Saints deal.

Preston are in the hunt for a left back with no recognised first team player in that role in their squad but Mills will have to impress to net a move with Brown also giving a trial to Alex Cooper, who has been released by Liverpool.

Both players will be taken north of the border over the weekend as Preston take on Falkirk on Saturday and Kilmarnock on Monday, allowing Mills, who has also been linked with Bournemouth, more time to stake a claim.

Brown said: “Both impressed me, considering they’ve only been here for two days.

“They’ve fitted in nicely with the squad and left-footed players always catch my eye.

“Hopefully, we can give them 90 minutes in Scotland and they’ll be tested more.”

Mills, the younger brother of another former Saint in Matt Mills, who has just moved from Reading to Leicester for £5m, came through the academy ranks before making his first team debut under Jan Poortvliet in 2008.

Later that season he went out on loan to Scunthorpe under the leadership of Adkins and played 14 times as the Iron reached the Championship via the playoffs.

Mills returned to Saints in the summer of 2009, signed a new three contract and went on to make the majority of his 16 starts and 16 sub appearances for the club during that season.

However, chances were hard to come by again during the last campaign and he joined Doncaster on an emergency loan in October 2010 and ended up staying until the end of the season, playing 19 games and scoring two goals.

It looked as though he would join Doncaster permanently this summer but the deal went off the boil and Rovers have since signed Sheffield Wednesday left back Tommy Spurr and currently focussing their attentions on recruiting centre halves.