Saints will embrace the “logistical challenge” of splitting up their first team squad as the club aim to please owner Gao Jisheng by playing a game in China.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and a group of players, made up of a handful of senior stars and padded out by youngsters, took off from London last night headed for Macau.

They land in China today ahead playing an exhibition match against Guangzhou Evergrande tomorrow.

Hasenhuttl and the senior players will then head immediately for the airport to fly to Dublin where the rest of the first team squad will be based for a week-long training camp. The remainder of the players and staff will travel back to Southampton on Wednesday.

“It’s a logistical challenge for sure,” admitted Hasenhuttl.

“It was not easy to split the group and to take care of both sides – one side is the owner and we want to go there and that’s normal for sure, and the other side we try to have the best pre-season as possible so keep the guys hard working.

“We find a good compromise I think and I am enjoying it to go there short term and then I will be back on Wednesday in Dublin and I can see the other group.

“It is a little bit of challenge, yes, but I think we can make it.”

Hasenhuttl is happy with how pre-season is going so far and wants that momentum to continue.

“It’s not so important that we are at the moment in good shape but that the first game we are in good shape,” he reflected.

“I build up the pre-season in every week chapters and topics and what I have seen so far the first game in Austria was not so good and now it’s getting better and better and that gives me a positive thinking about the beginning of the season. We know Burnley is a very hard game and then Liverpool at home also so it’s not easy.”