Paul Doswell is hoping to help former Southampton youngster Tom Dunford back into the professional game.
Midfielder Dunford, 19, will continue his career at Doswell’s Sutton United having joined the Ryman League outfit after being released by
Saints this summer.
Dunford, who won the Saints academy player of the year award in the 2008/09 season, was recommended to Doswell by Saints boss Alan Pardew.
The pair have become good friends since meeting at a charity match at Sutton’s Gander Green Lane before Pardew landed the Saints job.
That relationship has resulted in Pardew agreeing to take a Saints first-team to play Doswell’s men in a pre-season friendly next Saturday (July 24).
And Pardew has also invited Doswell to watch him put the Saints squad through their paces on a number of occasions.
It was during one of those sessions last season that Dunford caught Doswell’s eye.
"I was just down at training, watching training and Alan Pardew said he was going to be released but it was a close call," Doswell explained.
"And he recommended I speak to him and try and take things on.
"I did and Tom’s been down with us pre-season and enjoyed it and played well and I expect he will be starting the season with us.
"I have got him moved into a house in Southampton.
"He travels up with me and he just wants to play football.
"It was the most important thing to him - to do the best he can this year.
"Sutton United are known for never standing in anyone's way and if we can get him back on the professional ladder I will be delighted for him."
Doswell continued: "He is technically very good.
"His set pieces and delivery are very good.
"What Tom said to me was ‘at reserve team level we don’t play enough games’.
"They play one every two or three weeks, which does not give you much of a chance to get any development going.
"Often you effectively end up being a cone in training, pulled in when needed.
"But at his age he needs to be playing competitive football.
"Although technically the level is not what he is used to (in the Ryman League) in terms of the football it will be an eye opener.
"But I always say the cream rises to the top and I’m hoping he can go back on again."
Having had the privilege of watching Pardew at work at close quarters, lifelong Saints fan Doswell is full of admiration for his illustrious counterpart.
"It’s just been a brilliant opportunity for me to watch a Premier League manager, because that’s how high he has been, doing coaching," Doswell said.
"He is a brilliant coach.
"You can pick up so much from watching him and the way he organises things.
"And for him to allow me to watch at such close quarters is brilliant.
"He has turned the club around in terms of the football.
"Everything is so well organised and the whole intensity of the sessions, everything, is planned out.
"It’s very impressive and I have just been very lucky to be able to spend a few sessions watching."