Matt Targett hopes he’ll add consistency to his game after forcing his way back into the first team over the past week.
Prior to last weekend Targett had not made a first team appearance since the end of October, but has returned to the side in a more adventurous wing-back role deployed by Ronald Koeman in the games against Crystal Palace and Watford.
And, as his assist for Shane Long’s opening goal against the Hornets in midweek showed, Targett has been working hard on the attacking side of his game to get back into contention.
“It’s nice to be back in the mix with everyone in the squad again and playing – there’s nothing like playing first-team football,” he told reporters ahead of today's clash with West Bromwich Albion.
“I think it was more difficult for me at the start of the season because I was playing week-in, week-out but I couldn’t get the consistency in my performances that I wanted.
“At the start of the season, the team wasn’t performing well and we didn’t get the results we wanted so I think that knocks everyone down, but I’ve come back in.
"But I came back in against Palace, worked hard and I’ve been happy with my performances - and I’m happy with the performance I put in on Wednesday, where it was important that we got the three points."
Targett grabbed an assist in midweek and created several other opportunities in what he describes as his “best performance in a Saints shirt”, with his all-round game also catching the eye.
“I felt fitter on Wednesday night then I did on Saturday," he admitted. "Playing first team football gives you that extra mile in the tank – I felt sharp and it’s good to play at that tempo.
"Physically it’s a much higher step up from what I’m used to with the [under-]21s and you’ve got to concentrate more, stay fully-focused and work so hard in the gym. It was good to see it pay off on Wednesday night.”
Saints host West Bromwich Albion at St Mary’s this afternoon, and Targett is well-aware of what to expect from a resilient Baggies side that drew 2-2 with Chelsea on Wednesday.
“They’ll be very hard to break down," he explained. "They defend very well as a team and on Wednesday they came back from one-nil down to get to one-all and then got a late equaliser, so they’ve got a never-say-die attitude.
"It will be a difficult game. Tony Pulis likes his teams well-organised and hard to break down so we have to be on our game and hopefully get another three points that we need.
"We need to move the ball well – move it quick, don’t take that extra touch. We also need that bit of magic in the final third that our attacking players have, so hopefully they can pull off something and score some goals.”