Mauricio Pochettino believes his Southampton side is moving in the right direction as they prepare for Tuesday’s trip to Hull City.
After Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Stoke City Saints are now unbeaten in their past seven matches in all competitions, so they travel up to the KC Stadium in good form as they look to maintain their strong start to 2014.
“We’re having very good performances, we’re playing very good football overall, and I believe we’re on the right path,” the boss told Saints Player ahead of the game with the Tigers.
“Tomorrow we have a very tough game at Hull and hopefully we’re going to be able to repeat the same good performances that we’ve been having.”
Pochettino’s men could move up to eighth place in the Barclays Premier League with a draw against the team they beat 4-1 earlier in the season, but the Saints manager is focused on getting the better of a side that he rates highly after the Tigers’ activity in last month’s transfer window.
“Our mentality is always the same which is to be as high as possible at the end of the season in the table, and also our goal as always is to win the football game tomorrow evening,” he explained.
“We’re going to be facing a very tough Hull side who have made a lot of reinforcements during the transfer window. I think they are one of the teams that have spent the most money in the transfer window, so yes we’re fairly certain that we’re facing a very tough team and a very tough opposition on Tuesday evening.
“I think Hull have always been a tough side and now with these signings that they’ve made they’re an even tougher side to play against. We noticed that especially when we played them at home, that they were an especially tough side, they were aggressive and physical.
“I think Hull are one of the best prepared fitness wise teams in the league. Their work-rate is amazing, so we have full respect for their abilities and their performances.
“They’ve made reinforcements in the names of [Shane] Long and [Nikica] Jelavic – these are very important players, whereas we have only let one player leave and that was [Dani] Osvaldo, so overall we know we’re going to be facing a very tough team.”
Pochettino also stated that he will be assessing every player’s fitness levels between now and the match, with Victor Wanyama amongst those pushing for a return.
“He’s had a very serious injury that kept him away from playing for two months and in that time Jack Cork has stepped up,” said Pochettino.
“It’s very important to us that they’re competing for a position which is very good for the team and it’s also very important that we start recovering some other players, like Gastón [Ramírez] and Dejan [Lovren] – it’s important that they are back with us as soon as possible.
“It’s clear that we have a team mentality. We have a team of togetherness, a team unity. It’s clear that the team works best as a collective, and it’s also clear that we need all players fit in order to do well. In spite of different players having different characteristics, the most important aspect is the team and a team mentality.
“Today is a very significant day in terms of assessing everyone’s fitness ahead of the game. That includes every player as we look at everyone who has played many minutes in the game against Stoke City, so between today and tomorrow we’ll be able to assess everyone and see which players are best to be starting against Hull.”
Striker Sam Gallagher has also returned to the training ground after being given compassionate leave last week and Pochettino says the young forward will be in the travelling party for Tuesday night.
“After the passing of his father he’s been able to train and he’s trained very well,” Pochettino revealed.
“He needs to be with the group and he needs to travel with us, we’re not sure if he’s going to be playing, but he needs to be with the group and the group needs to show him their full support and kindness towards him in this difficult moment, and we’ll see whether he plays or not.”