RALPH Hasenhuttl has praised Will Smallbone after making only his second start of the season versus West Ham, adding: “I think he did a good job.”

The 22-year-old Saints academy graduate this year returned from his second consecutive serious injury, an ACL, but was soon sidelined again with a calf concern.

His only other start this campaign came during the draw at Crystal Palace, back in December.

Smallbone had made a return with 60 minutes for Dave Horseman’s B team in Premier League 2 on Saturday, with Hasenhuttl in attendance and clearly impressed by the popular youngster.

He made 80 minutes as Saints sealed progression to the FA Cup quarter-final with a 3-1 win, before he was substituted for Nathan Redmond.

“Yeah, we have to look on everybody, not young or older,” Hasenhuttl said, quizzed on Smallbone’s return.

“Longy needs game time, same like Will. We had Will on the weekend in the B team, playing 60 minutes.

“It was important for me that he gets the game time there, and now, today started and I think he did a good job and this is why it is important to when you come in a team where the alternatives are there, then it's always easier.”

He continued: “Today we had a lot of changes so it was a little bit hard in the beginning to find the rhythm, but in the end, I must say I'm very proud of what the guys did today.”