SAINTS great and former England assistant manager Lawrie McMenemy believes the national team playing at St Mary’s shows how far the club has come.

The Three Lions are earmarked to play Kosovo in a Euro 2020 qualifier on September 10, almost 17 years after their last game on the south coast.

And McMenemy, who ended a three-year break in 1990 to assist Graham Taylor in managing England, thinks it's a great idea.

McMenemy said: “The news that England will be playing another competitive game at St Mary’s is a reminder of how far the club has come since my time with national team back in the early 1990s.

“During my time with the club we only hosted one international match at The Dell. That was an England Ladies match and they only played there because of Sue Lopez, who was an England international from Winchester.

“The last time England played at St Mary’s was in 2002 against Macedonia, who were delighted to get a 2-2 draw.

“Let’s hope the next visit will be a better result.”

As well as boosting Saints’ profile on the international stage, McMenemy believes England’s visit will help the local economy.

The FA have decided to take the Three Lions on the road so that those who are unable to attend Wembley don’t miss out on seeing Gareth Southgate’s side.

This included trips to Elland Road in Leeds and Leicester's King Power Stadium last year.

McMenemy added: “I’ve always maintained that it’s special for the community in any city when a major sports event is held there.

“It brings extra people to the area so hotels, shops and restaurants all benefit. It puts the area in the public eye on the world stage.

“Everybody would like to visit Wembley at least once, but it’s getting more and more expensive for people to travel so it’s the right decision to take the team to them.

“If James Ward-Prowse starts it would add even greater interest. I believe he’s playing well enough to be first choice now and hopefully that’s the case in September.”

St Mary’s hasn’t hosted an England game since October 2002 when Macedonia escaped with a 2-2 draw.

And the news of the national side visiting the south coast again, prompted McMenemy to remember his time in with the Three Lions.

“It reminds me of my first game as England U21 manager in September 1990 – which was played at The Dell!

“When Graham Taylor took over I was appointed manager of the B team and the U21s. His first fixture was Hungary away but the national stadium over there was still under repair so we persuaded them to switch the fixture to Wembley, which they were delighted with.

“I then selected The Dell for the U21s game. Naturally I contacted the board at Saints, who were equally pleased.

“There was a good turn-out of 9,534 and although Under-21 results were not as important, it was good to win 3-1 thanks to goals from Mark Robins, Mark Blake and Tommy Johnson.

“Hopefully England get a similar result against Kosovo at St Mary’s.”