Claude Puel expects Middlesbrough to provide Southampton with a stern test as they bid to return to winning ways.
Saints now face three Premier League games in a week in the lead-up to Christmas, following Thursday night’s elimination from the UEFA Europa League.
Puel wants to see his players provide the perfect response, but says Middlesbrough will not make it easy for his side on Sunday.
“I think they are a good team, and they try to play good football with good players like Negredo and Ramírez,” said Puel.
“It’s a good team. I saw this team in their last games and it will be important to have a strong determination against this team.
“They play good football, so it’s important now for us to have good results and a good reaction. I’m sure this will be the case.”
Despite Thursday’s disappointment, Saints’ Premier League objective remains the same, and Puel is aware of the importance of the next three matches.
“Qualification or no qualification, it’s now important to finish the year with good games against all of the teams,” he added.
“We need to come back into the first part of the table. The objective for us doesn’t change.
“It’s important to show a good mentality and leave behind this disappointment, because it’s finished.
“It’s now important to look forward and that begins on Sunday.”