A FORMER Saints youth coach, accused of carrying out dozens of attacks on boys, appeared in court for his trial.

Wearing a grey tracksuit, Robert ‘Bob’ Higgins entered the dock at Salisbury Crown Court after allegedly abusing 24 youngsters, and confirmed his name.

In the opening day of his trial, legal discussions were had and jury members selected for what is expected to an eight-week trial.

It is alleged that the 64-year-old carried out the attacks between 1970 and 1996.

Higgins, who will be represented by Alastair MacDonald QC in the trial, faces a total of 50 child sex offences, which are said to refer to indecent assaults against boys predominantly “within the footballing community”.

Higgins was part of the youth system at Southampton FC in the 1980s and was youth team manager at Peterborough United from May 1995 to April 1996.

Several police forces in the UK launched wide-ranging investigations into sexual abuse in football in November.

a dedicated NSPCC helpline for football received 860 calls in its first week.

Southampton FC says it has co-operated with Hampshire police.

In a statement released last December, the club said: “Hampshire police and Southampton Football Club are committed to working together to investigate any historical allegations that may be brought to light in the Hampshire area.

“The club has informed Hampshire police that we will offer our full support to any investigation they undertake, for as long as it takes, and with our full focus.

“The club works closely and tirelessly with the Premier League to promote the safeguarding of children and young people who are under our care or using our facilities, and their wellbeing is paramount to all staff.”

Today, a jury will be sworn in before Adam Feest QC opens the Crown Prosecution Services’ case against Higgins.

Higgins, of Southampton, denies all allegations.

The trial continues.