FORMER Colchester United defender Nico Lawrence has signed a new contract with Southampton, keeping him at the Championship club until 2026.

The 21-year-old centre-back, who returned to the Saints in January after spending the first half of the campaign on loan at the U's.


Lawrence told the Southampton FC website: "The moment I got offered it, it was basically a no-brainer for me.

"To think that two years ago I was in step five football, now being here has only improved me as a player and I can't wait to see what the next two years hold."


Lawrence started the current season in the Colchester starting line-up under Ben Garner, having joined the club in the summer.

The Kinetic Foundation graduate made five appearances before suffering a serious ankle injury in the U's 3-0 win at Gillingham, last August.

Lawrence returned to Southampton for treatment and was on the verge of a comeback for Colchester before he suffered a dislocated shoulder in training that kept him out of action for a further period.


He was on a season-long loan at the U's but returned to Southampton, midway through the deal.

Since returning, he has been playing for the Saints' under-21 side and has also taken part in first-team training.

He has forced his way into Russell Martin's first-team squad, in the Championship and was on the bench for their 0-0 draw at Blackburn Rovers, earlier this month.


Southampton's academy director, Andy Goldie, told the club's website: "Nico has really impressed me since coming back from Colchester, earning and grabbing the opportunities that have been presented to him.

"He's demonstrated great maturity in how he's approached his development on and off the pitch, which has reflected in his performances for the under-21s and in first team training.

"He's had a taste of the first team environment at Colchester, and on the bench recently against Blackburn Rovers and his new contract now gives him the time to continue his development with us and earn future opportunities."