SAINTS midfielder Shea Charles believes that Northern Ireland's 5-1 thrashing against Spain can serve as preparation for his upcoming season in the Premier League.

Charles is a key man in midfield for Michael O'Neill's side but admitted his frustration as his country failed to stop the likes of Pedri, Rodri and Fabian Ruiz from dominating the game.

Spain characteristically dominated the ball, ending the game with 79 per cent possession, giving Charles a flavour of chasing the ball after playing under Russell Martin this season.

Saints ended the 2023/24 Championship campaign with the highest average possession, 66 per cent, but may struggle to achieve that in the top flight.

Daily Echo: Shea Charles made his Northern Ireland debut in June 2022.Shea Charles made his Northern Ireland debut in June 2022. (Image: PA)

Speaking after the defeat, Charles said: "I guess it’s just different when you don’t have a lot of the ball.

“That might happen more in the Premier League when you’re up against better players, it’s almost like a taste of what it’s going to be like in the Premier League.”

Saturday's friendly against Spain served as a chance for Charles to come up against his former Manchester City teammate Rodri.

The 20 year old played alongside the Champions League winner during his time training with City's senior squad.

This was the first time both had been on the pitch at the same time - Rodri was named among the substitutes when Charles made his senior debut against Brentford.

Charles swapped shirts with his ex-teammate after the game and revealed: “It was nice to come up against the best midfielder in the world."

Asked what it was like to face the 27 year old, Charles added: "It’s not enjoyable, to be completely honest.

Daily Echo: Shea Charles joined Southampton last summer from Manchester CityShea Charles joined Southampton last summer from Manchester City (Image: Stuart Martin)

“The way he controls the game, I don’t think anybody does it like him. It’s always good to come up against the best players in the world on the international stage.

“You know what you’re coming up against, but it’s just, how do you stop him controlling the game?

“He’s so focused, you can see that, it’s just completely different (to training) when you’re up against him in a competitive game.”

Charles made 32 appearances during his first season at Southampton, starting 15 times.

He has drawn praise from manager Martin, who described his first season on the South Coast as a "big success."