South African teenager Siphesihle Mdlalose has signed a professional contract with Premier League outfit Southampton.
The 18-year-old joined the club's academy in 2015, and he was soon promoted to the under-18 team soon afterwards.
Matt Hale said the aim is to keep Mdlalose and a few of his teammates in the U18 team at the beginning of August with the view of making it into the U23 side when the season kicks off.
"It’s a proud day for them all. The key objective for a lot of these boys now, despite turning professional, is to be in that first under-18s teams at the beginning of August," Hale told the club website.
"If they are, or if they are older, then they need to make sure they are in that under-23s team when that season kicks off as well. That’s the next objective for these lads, and then they can see if they can get further on and in and around the manager’s plans with the first team squad, given an opportunity," he concluded.
Mdlalose, who was born in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, made 25 appearances in all competitions for the U18 team last season and found the back of net five times.
He is a utility player who can play either as a striker or as a right-winger.