Hughes encouraged by first pre-season showing

By SFC Media Thu 05 Jul
Photo by Matt Watson | Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes was pleased with the way his team performed against strong opposition as Southampton drew 3-3 with FC Schalke in their pre-season opener in China.

The Germans finished second in the Bundesliga last season and took the lead through Yevhen Konoplyanka, before Nathan Redmond equalised on the stroke of half time.

Saints fielded a far younger side in the second period, and twice took the lead with goals from Harrison Reed and Jake Hesketh only to be pegged back on both occasions at Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium.

“I enjoyed the game. We were up against a quality team,” Hughes said.

“They are a high pressing team and that will help us, because we will face teams like that in the Premier League.

“I think it was important we came through it – we were a little bit apprehensive beforehand because conditions were a lot different yesterday, with more humidity, and we were training at a different time to the game.

“For us to give 45 minutes to almost everybody in the squad is exactly what we needed from the exercise. Touch wood, we’ve come through unscathed, which is always a worry at this stage of a new season, so for my part I think we ticked a lot of boxes.”

The boss was particularly encouraged by the good intentions his players showed in some of their attacking play.

“There was a willingness to try to make things happen,” Hughes added. Clearly, it’s our first game and some of our accuracy was a little bit off.

“It wasn’t a case of doing the wrong things, we were just a little bit lacking in that technical element that comes from training more and playing more. That will build as we get towards the season.

“Overall, it was a good workout and the younger guys who came on for the second half acquitted themselves very well.”

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