Southampton manager Claude Puel stressed the importance of Saturday’s home Premier League fixture with Hull in ensuring their season does not end in disappointment.
Their run to the Capital One Cup final, where they lost to Manchester United, and their mixed results in the Europa League, mean they require a top-half finish if Puel’s first year at the club is to be considered a success.
They have lost their past two fixtures, against Chelsea and Manchester City, and against Hull face a team resiliently battling against relegation.
However Southampton also remain in contention to finish eighth, a respectful achievement given the quality and financial power of the top seven English teams, and Puel told his club’s official website: “It’s an important game for us after two losses.
“It’s important now to move forward and to take points.
“We know to finish in the top half of the table is important for us and for the fans.
“Hull City are a good team with good technical players and they play good football. They won their last game with 10 men against 11 which shows good spirit.
“It’s important in front of our own fans to have a good game and hopefully get a good result of course.”
A third straight defeat could leave Southampton with little to play for in the five fixtures they would still have to play thereafter, and defender Cedric Soares added: “Hull have a very good team, with a very good coach in Marco Silva who was my coach before in Portugal.
“We need to be aware but they need to be aware of us because we have an amazing team and we work very hard every day and we’ll be at our level to try to win the game.”
Puel again has Sam McQueen available after his return to training but despite Charlie Austin and Matt Targett also participating, Saturday’s fixture comes too soon for each.